Myanmar: new government must prioritize rule of law and respect for human rights

Document Type: Analysis Brief
Date: 2016

Myanmar’s new government, led by the National League for Democracy of Aung San Suu Kyi, must establish a clear plan for strengthening the rule of law and protection of human rights, said the ICJ today as it released its 14 General Recommendations to the new Government and Parliament.

“The NLD has a tremendous opportunity and obligation to reverse years of official rejection and neglect of the rights of the people of Myanmar,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director.

“Myanmar’s severe human rights problems can’t be solved immediately, or even for years to come, but it’s crucial for the new Government to announce its strategy and show its commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of all people in Myanmar,” he added.

After close discussions with all branches of the Government, as well as civil society and international experts, the ICJ has identified areas in which the Government can immediately and in the long-term address human rights violations in Myanmar and outlines measures to be taken to ensure that all legislation is guided by the principles of non-discrimination, greater accountability, transparency and justice.

Among the key recommendations of the ICJ are:

  • Strengthening the independence and competence of the judiciary as well as the Attorney General’s Office;
  • Improving the Government’s ability to monitor and regulate the conduct of businesses and their impact on the rights and well-being of people;
  • Repealing or amending laws and practices that discriminate on the basis of religious or ethnic identity (particularly at-risk groups such as the Rohingya), or sexual orientation and gender identity; and
  • Ensuring accountability and redress for violations of human rights, especially when committed by State security forces.

“Access to justice for victims of human rights violations has been severely curbed in Myanmar over the past decades, with most of the population being consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a result of unfair and discriminatory laws as well as poor court decisions,” said Zarifi.

“The military remains dominant in Myanmar, wielding undue influence over various sectors in the country, including the judiciary, and continues to enjoy impunity for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law,” he added.

The ICJ says Myanmar should immediately engage with the international human rights community.

It must accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and expedite accession to the Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol thereto, and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the ICJ adds.


Sam Zarifi, ICJ Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, t: +66807819002; e: sam.zarifi(a)

Vani Sathisan, ICJ International Legal Adviser for Myanmar, t: +95(0)9250800301; e: vani.sathisan(a)

Additional Information:

The ICJ’s General Recommendations relate to the following matters:

1. Independence of judges;

2. Independence of lawyers;

3. Reform of the Union Attorney General’s Office;

4. Land laws;

5. Investment law;

6. Bilateral investment treaties;

7. Special Economic Zones;

8. Offenses against religion;

9. Discriminatory laws targeting women and minorities;

10. Rights of the Rohingya;

11. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;

12. Criminal defamation and freedom of expression;

13. Peaceful assembly law; and

14. Ending impunity for violations of human rights.

Myanmar-Recommendation to NLD Gvt-Advocacy-Analysis Brief-2016-ENG (full text, in PDF)

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