News : Good practice

Commission leads discussion on death penalty moratorium

Graphic: Two men walk in a jail compond

A workshop organised by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has recommended the government consider a moratorium on the death penalty.

The Workshop on the Moratorium of the Death Penalty, held in Nay Pyi Taw on 30-31 October, was organised by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and supported by the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.

The workshop was attended by 33 participants, including parliamentarians, senior government officials, representatives from civil society organisations, the media and members of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.

It commenced with welcoming remarks by U Win Mra, Chairperson of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. He stated that Myanmar has not carried out an execution since 1988 and that it is considered abolitionist in practice, although the death sentence is still imposed on offenders in serious crimes.

After his speech, Win Mra invited participants to present their arguments for an official moratorium on the death penalty.

Dr. Jon Yorke, a professor of human rights at the Birmingham City University School of Law outlined international perspectives on the death penalty, including the UN's calls for a global moratorium on the death penalty.

NHRC member Soe Phone Myint gave an explanation of the laws pertaining to the death penalty in Myanmar. Crimes including corruption, treason, and military mutiny are technically punishable by death. Murder and drug trafficking carry a mandatory death sentence.

Khin Maung Lay, another NHRC member, referenced the final resolution of the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty in October 2016, which called on abolitionist countries to make their cooperation in some multilateral projects contingent on commitments from other countries to abolish or reduce the applicability of their death penalties.

In January 2014, then-President Thein Sein commuted all of Myanmar's death sentences to life imprisonment.

Since Myanmar is considered abolitionist in practice, the workshop concluded by recommending that the government consider a moratorium on the application of the death penalty, pending its eventual abolition.

Date: 2 November 2017