160 Legal Officers Disciplined in 2017, Supreme Court Says

By Htet Naing Zaw 2 May 2018

NAYPYITAW — The Supreme Court took disciplinary action against 160 legal officers last year in response to complaints, according to the body’s latest annual report, released Wednesday in Naypyitaw.

Among the high-level officials disciplined were a director-general, two deputy directors-general, the heads of two regional law departments, two deputy directors and six district judges, according to the report. Disciplined low-level staff included clerks and assistants.

Punitive measures included salary reductions, suspended promotions, demotions, and the temporary suspension of duty. Three people were sacked: a township judge, a deputy township judge, and a staff officer.

“We took action against 88 officials and 72 staff,” U Zaw Zaw Tun, assistant director of the International Research and Relations Department of the Supreme Court of the Union, told reporters.

Lawyer U Kyi Myint said the court should do more to publicize such news.

“The public doesn’t know about it. They should announce it in newspapers so that legal staff do not dare to misuse their power. They should announce it in real time rather than releasing annual or biannual reports,” he said.

But U Kyi Myint said the Supreme Court’s efforts to reform the country’s legal system continued to be hampered by low pay and legal staff who protect one another.

“The report should specify the names of the judges alongside the type of punishment they were given. It is not clear how they were disciplined. Was it just a warning? If so, the report means nothing. Just releasing a list won’t win the trust of the people,” the lawyer said.

A similar report was released for 2016. They aim to provide greater transparency and accountability of the judicial system, enable the public to assess the performance of courts, enhance the capacity of courts, and inform the public about judicial sector reforms.

According to the latest report, there were 1,930 rape cases, 1,214 murder cases, 9,052 drug cases, 191 human trafficking cases and 96,307 other cases in 2017. Mandalay Region saw the most murder cases, Irrawaddy Region saw the most rape cases, and Kachin State saw the most drug cases.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.