Myanmar: Law on assembly and procession inconsistent with human rights
20 Sep 2012
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The Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession is one of the first laws governing civil and political rights to be adopted since the election of a quasi-civilian government in November 2010. ARTICLE 19’s analysis of the law launched today finds the law to be inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and the right to assembly.
Myanmar has neither signed nor ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or other principal human rights treaties. Nevertheless, the guarantees to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as provided for by Article 364 of the Constitution of Myanmar, allow a wide scope for interpretation, and international standards regarding these rights should provide guidance to such an interpretation.
In the analysis, ARTICLE 19 appreciates the Decree’s recognition of the state’s duty to protect assembly participants. However, the requirement for permission to hold an assembly, the grounds for denying permission, the lack of a court appeal and the absence of guarantees for media access to assemblies are problematic and must be urgently revised.
Summary of recommendations
ARTICLE 19 calls on the Government of Myanmar:
- To sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- To invite the UN special rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to visit Myanmar
- To ensure that the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression are safeguarded in line with international standards
- To revise the Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession in accordance with international standards on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as recommended by ARTICLE 19
- To initiate public discussion about the current legal framework on peaceful assemblies and engage in consultation with civil society representatives on how to improve the relevant legislation.
ARTICLE 19 calls on civil society in Myanmar:
- To engage in public debates and consultation with the government on how to improve the domestic legislation on peaceful assembly
- To form coalitions between civil society organisations and launch public education campaigns on the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression
- To draft legislative proposals and advocate for specific changes in domestic legislation aiming at the improvement of the protection of the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression
- To seek partnerships with international organisations in a specific mandate on the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
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