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Myanmar – Southeast Asia Security Laws

The Constitution of Myanmar (2008) includes chapters on the role of the armed forces (Chapter 7), fundamental rights and duties of citizens (Chapter 8), and the power of the President to declare a state of emergency, suspend the rights of citizens, while guaranteeing immunity for all actions taken by the military and civil officers (Chapter 11). Article 354 of the Constitution provides for limitations related to national security on certain rights such as the freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Under Chapter 4, section 4, one quarter of the seats of the parliament are reserved for military personnel nominated by the Commander-in-Chief.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) contains provisions regarding the composition and powers of criminal courts (Part II), the prevention of offenses, including “security for good behavior from persons disseminating sedition matter” and “unlawful assemblies” (Part IV), and information to the police and the powers of the police to investigate crimes (Part V). Section 61 of the Code of Criminal Procedure limits preventive detentions without judicial oversight to 24 hours. This is reiterated in article 378 of the Constitution, with the exception of “matters on precautionary measures taken for the security of the Union or prevalence of law and order, peace and tranquility in accord with the law in the interest of the public, or the matters permitted according to an existing law”.

The Penal Code (1861) lists many of Myanmar’s crimes. Section 505(b), notably, penalizes making, publishing or circulating “any statement, rumor or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the State or against the public tranquility”.