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Lawyers are once again under the control of Myanmar's military regime

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Myanmar's military government has modified the Bar Council Act, thereby restoring the junta's control over the body.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, presented two additional modifications to the Bar Council Act on October 28, eliminating attorneys' ability to elect the council and allowing the dictatorship to appoint the legal body.


The Attorney-General and Chief Justice of the Union will appoint members to the council under the change.

"Lawyers no longer have the right to elect representatives to represent them."
"The council has been returned to the regime's absolute control, as it was in the past," a legal expert who asked to remain unnamed remarked.

Lawyers are likely to face greater restrictions under the new statute, according to legal experts, because the Bar Council is permitted to issue and revoke advocate licences as well as regulate advocates.


“Advocacy applications will be subject to restrictions and controls.
There will also be restrictions and directions for existing advocates that are politically motivated.
Another legal expert stated, "[The modification] will limit the freedom of advocates."

Under British colonial authority, the Bar Council Act was initially passed in 1929, requiring council members to be elected democratically.


The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of the then junta revised the legislation after the Bar Council called for attorneys to engage in rallies against the former military dictatorship during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.
In 1989, the SPDC revised two provisions to state that only the Chief Justice of the Union could appoint council members.

Many lawyers participating in the pro-democracy movement have either been detained and imprisoned, or their licences have been withdrawn.


Under the now-defunct civilian National League for Democracy (NLD) government, the Bar Council Act was changed again in 2019, giving all licenced lawyers in the country a vote to elect the council.
After decades of military rule, eleven members of the council were elected for the first time the following year, including the vice-chairperson and secretary.


The Union Legal Aid Board, which was founded in 2017 with lawyers from the NLD, had four members elected to the council: U Nyan Win, U Kyaw Ho, U Thet Swe, and U Aung Kyaw Min.

Following the military's February 1 coup, the authorities arrested U Nyan Win, who later acquired coronavirus while imprisoned in Yangon's Insein Prison.
On July 20, he passed away at Yangon Hospital.

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