The justice system strives for independence but is still being subjected to influence and pressures from the government, judges said at a workshop earlier this month.
About 50 senior members of the judicial sector, including judges from the Supreme Court, and state and region high courts, attended the two-day discussion on judicial independence and integrity in Nay Pyi Taw.
Judges may no longer receive formal instructions from the government on the disposition of a case. But they say they still encounter the attitude among some civil servants that the government can and should tell the courts whom to convict, and how to punish them, they say.
“Even discussing the ways that pressure is exerted on the judiciary is sensitive,” said U Myo Thant, a high court advocate.
Nevertheless, discussions were frank – perhaps surprisingly so – at the workshop, which was organised by the International Commission of Jurists.
“Participants were very open about the serious obstacles to their independence and accountability that they face, including pressure from other branches of government and from powerful actors in cases that are politically sensitive or have high economic constraints,” said Saman Zia-Zarifi, director of the group’s Asia and Pacific program.
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