Judicial Corruption Inquiry Approved by Parliament

By Nyein Nyein 25 April 2012

Lawmakers in Burma’s Lower House of Parliament have approved bestowing a committee with the power to investigate and expose bribery and corruption in the judicial arm of government.

The move aims to ensure the Burmese court system remains impartial and honest by allowing the Judicial Committee to investigate allegations of impropriety, and was passed by a vote of the People’s Parliament during a meeting on Tuesday.

Thura Aung Ko, the MP for Kanpetlet constituency in Mindat, Chin State, and chairman of the Judicial Committee, made the proposal. He was previously deputy minister of the Religious Ministry under the former military government.

More than five hundreds letters of complaint have been received from members of the public since the Judicial Committee was formed in September 2011, and the new powers will allow the body to investigate these allegations.

Kyi Myint, the MP for Rangoon’s Latha constituency, told The Irrawaddy that the Lower House’s approval is a “landmark decision” which can help to clean up the judicial system for the first time in modern Burma.

The proposal was fully supported by MPs “even though Soe Nyunt, the Union Supreme Court Judge, denied there was any problem with judges and their proceedings,” he said.

Thein Nyunt, a respected MP and lawyer, said, “I rejected the presentation of the Union Supreme Court Judge which could undermine the core meaning of the [investigation powers] proposal, and all the MPs supported my views.”

The MPs agreed that it is crucial to have a transparent judicial system, saying that otherwise society would be “providing license for judges to deliver whatever verdict they wanted,” he said.

Kyi Myint said that Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann also echoed the views of MPs who want to develop a fair judicial system.

But the exact timeframe of when the decision will be enacted is not yet known, said Thein Nyunt, adding that MPs should think of developing their own bill if they are keen to raise a proposal.

“MPs can also prepare bills that would be quicker and so become more effective,” he added. “According to our experience, it takes a long time to pass bills after they are sent to the Attorney General’s office.”