Anti-Corruption Commission to Prosecute Corrupt Judge

By Tin Htet Paing 11 January 2017

RANGOON — The government’s anti-graft commission will prosecute a corrupt judge from upper Burma’s Magwe Division for violation of the anti-corruption law, the commission announced on Wednesday.

Judge Daw Inzali Mya Shein of Pwintbyu Township was charged with accepting bribes last year in exchange for favorable rulings on two criminal cases. The judge acted unethically while “exercising the authority assigned upon her,” the Anti-Corruption Commission told The Irrawaddy.

The commission also revealed that the bribes involved 500,000 kyats (US$368) in each of the two cases—one for an unlicensed liquor shop and another for illegal gambling.

“The judge jailed those defendants who did not give her bribes. But for those who gave her bribes, she handed down lighter sentences that only involved paying a fine,” read a complaint that was received by the commission and which was reported on Wednesday by the state-run newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar.

Commission member U Thin Maung said they have charged the judge under Article 56 of the 2013 anti-corruption law, which could result in a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He added that it was the commission’s fifth case against a high-level public servant in the judiciary sector.

“We can only take action upon complaints we receive,” he said, highlighting the importance of public engagement in the fight against graft in Burma.

The commission has received 2,661 complaints since its formation in March 2014, U Thin Maung said. According to the commission’s statistics, Rangoon Division ranked at the top for most complaints generated, followed by Mandalay and Pegu.

“Corruption will not just disappear immediately, and we can only reduce it eventually,” he said.

In December, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for the public to submit complaints against corrupt government officials, and she promised confidentiality to whistleblowers.

Burma’s current anti-graft law was enacted under former President U Thein Sein, who mandated a new commission to investigate corruption. The commission was formed with 15 members appointed by U Thein Sein. U Mya Win, a former major general in the Burma Army, chairs the commission.

Last year, lawmakers urged the cabinet to take stronger action against the country’s deep-rooted nepotism and corruption. They complained that the three-year-old commission had not achieved a significant reduction in corruption, and they suggested forming a new commission under the popularly elected NLD government.

According to an annual report from the Berlin-based graft monitor Transparency International, Burma is considered among the world’s most corrupt countries, ranking 147 out of 168 nations in 2015.

Observers have cited several drivers of corruption and bribery in Burma, including low pay for government employees and a complex and nontransparent bureaucracy. This in turn creates an abundance of opportunities for bribery and other forms of corruption.