19 December 2012

Burma legal reforms 'must be targeted'

International organisations and foreign governments must pinpoint support for reforms in Burma, a leading group of human rights lawyers has said in advance of a major report on legal structures in the southeast Asian country.

Burma: legal reform must target all in society

Burma: legal reform must target all in society gnomeandi/Shutterstock.com

Analysis from the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute set to be launched next month warns that assistance must be carefully targeted to all include all sections of the country’s population. The committee’s chairwoman, top English lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, said the country ‘is making important strides in terms of reform, but many challenges lie ahead’.

Overcoming history

She added: ‘Reform will require systematic change, including the creation of new institutions and constitutional amendments. Furthermore, Myanmar [Burma] must confront and overcome its recent history in order for those reforms to have impact… It is vital that reform is realistically paced, so as to ensure that communities and political parties are able to move forward in a unified and productive manner.’
Her institute’s report – ‘The Rule of Law in Myanmar: Challenges and Prospects’ – is based on research conducted by a fact-finding mission in August this year. The delegation found the country’s laws and the 2008 Constitution ‘formally guarantee a number of important rights, but national institutions frequently lack the capacity to put them into effect’.

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