Eight lawyers in Myanmar have had their licence to practise law reinstated after the Law Society and other advocates for the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession intervened on behalf of 32 lawyers disbarred for political reasons.
In April 2012, the Law Society wrote a letter to the President of Myanmar voicing concern that lawyers in the country had been targeted with criminal sanctions and had their licences revoked in retribution for their political activities.
In the letter, the Law Society acknowledged recent positive changes that had taken place in Myanmar and requested further information on the criminal offences that led to the disbarment.
The Law Society indicated that it was considering issuing a public statement in support of the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession in Myanmar.
In an email in June, one of the lawyers whose licence has been reinstated thanked the Law Society for its actions and acknowledged that global support had played a part in the Myanmar Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the lawyers’ licences.
The lawyer sent a later email that provides a glimpse of the great difficulties he has endured, and his pleasure on his return to the profession: “Today I’ve filed my attorney power to my first civil case after 10 yrs imprisonment and 11 yrs of disbarred hellish times. I am to deliver one criminal revision admission argument and one final hearing of another criminal revision in Naypyidaw supreme court…thanks.”
It is understood that the remaining disbarred lawyers are now free to apply to have their licences reinstated.
The Law Society’s Human Rights Monitoring Group recommended the intervention in the matter after receiving information on the disbarments from the Asian Legal Resource Centre and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.
The Government of Canada has recently taken important steps in support of the rule of law in Myanmar.
The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited the country in March.
During the visit he presented Nobel Laureate and democracy and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi with an honorary Canadian citizenship.
In support of the Law Society’s mandate to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, the Human Rights Monitoring Group monitors and recommends interventions in cases of human rights violations that target members of the legal profession and the judiciary as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties.