Office of Union Attorney General: Working hard to upgrade the legal framework, upholding rule of law for all

 

“The UAGO launched the Strategic Plan 2015-19 entitled “Moving Forward to the Rule of Law” in 2015 and we are now in the last year of the plan. There are arrangements to review and discuss its advantages and disadvantages for another 5 year plan.”

U Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General

  • By Thi Thi Min
    Photos: My Kha

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The main objective of the Union Attorney General’s Office (UAGO) is to uphold rule of law and respect for the rights of all citizens. We met up with attorneys including the Attorney General himself to discuss about the progress of the Office of the Attorney’s General in the course of previous year.

Union Attorney General, U Tun Tun Oo
Q: What are some highlights of the UAG office in their 3rd year in office of incumbent government?
A: Through the past year, the UAGO has reviewed and discussed over 181 draft laws from the ministries as well as 257 rules, regulations and notifications. The office also gave consultation on 688 international projects, 1097 on local and foreign investments and other 527 on law-related matters. The UAGO launched the Strategic Plan 2015-19 entitled “Moving Forward to the Rule of Law” in 2015 and we are now in the final year of the plan. There are arrangements to review and discuss its advantages and disadvantages for another 5 year plan. The Plan will continue to push the office to draft and vet laws that serve the Myanmar people and uphold the existing ones such as prosecution under fair trials and accountability of the office.
In regards to the public’s accessibility for the laws, the public laws, notification, rules and procedures as well as public cases in the court are now available on our public website. With the widespread use of phones to access the internet, we had over 200,000 readers within a year with 46% from Yangon.

U Win Myint, Deputy Attorney General
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the rules and procedures for citizens when they face difficulties in getting a fair judgment?
A: A committee has been formed February 2017 by the Union Government to discuss and implement strategies for upholding rule of law and conducting fair trials. The AG is the chairman with other members from various Ministries including the Minister and Deputy Minister of Ministry of Home Affairs, representative from Myanmar Police Force, professors from Yangon University’s Department of Law, Parliament representatives and social organizations. There are 17 members total.
There are also sub-groups of the committee on a state and region level with the respective Regional/State Ministers and Parliament Chairman on the board. The public can take their cases within the regional/state level which will work with the concerning groups/departments to resolve the cases. Throughout the 2 years of the committee being formed, there are over 552 cases reported. There was also a general meeting held March 2018 where the State Counsellor gave a speech regarding rule of law. There are plans to consolidate the discussions and ideas from the general meeting to pass the Strategic Plan 2019-23 “Justice for Everyone”.

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Dr. Thida Oo, Director General, the Legal Advice Department
Q: Can you explain to us about the scope of work of your department within the UAGO?
A: The Department was formed as per the Attorney General of the Union Law Section 12(42) to assist the UAGO in reviewing ASEAN laws, Memorandum of Understands and other General Law advice. We also consult on international treaties, conventions to assess whether or not in the deals, Myanmar will be given a financial burden and/or whether Myanmar will need to be creating new laws to abide by the international conventions/treaties.
Our department also helps review on MOUs singed on a Union level such as oil/gas exploration, foreign investments, mineral exploration, real estate buying/renting in Myanmar from foreign companies, selling/transferring ownership in companies where government stakes are involved and reviewing company shareholders agreement to see whether or not the terms and ownership abide by the laws of Myanmar. In addition, we also consult the Regional/State administration laws and/or business deals that are forwarded to us from respective regional/state advocate’s offices. This is to ensure that the deals that have been signed are in the best economic interest of Myanmar and does not impede on the laws, rules and right of sovereignty of Myanmar.

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Director-General Daw Khin Cho Ohn at the 4th Sub-Regional Meeting between Cambodia-Indonesia-Myanmar-Thailand Law Enforcement Cooperation in Fighting Trafficking in Persons in Fishing Industry.

Q: Any special accomplishments in the 3rd year in incumbent administration?
A: For special accomplishments, we have been active in publishing books regarding advice on upholding and practicing rule of law. There were also rule of law workshops held in collaboration with the UAGO and the Denmark Embassy such as International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Universal Periodic Review (UPR). We were also able to publish a Guideline on Scrutinizing Joint Venture Agreement and Land Lease Agreement. Research committees have also been formed as well for further publications in the multiple research journals.

Daw Khin Cho Ohn, Director General, Prosecution Department
Q: Can you tell us about the rules and procedures for prosecution?
A: The Department of Prosecution represents the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in criminal cases in the Supreme Court. If the Republic is involved in the case, we are involved. The department also reviews various laws that comes up from the respective parliaments on whether or not they are fit for consideration. With the help of USAID, there are plans to digitalize our system and dockets. There are also workshops and collaborative training with other departments such as the Border Police, Myanmar Police Force, the Anti-trafficking Police Force and other law officers. Cooperation Guidelines have been written and distributed throughout so the teams are most efficient in working together and prosecuting criminals. The Fair Trial Standards document was also published on Feb 20, 2018 for various levels of law officers to be familiar with fair trials and right judgment and procedures during cases.

Daw Nu Nu Yin, Permanent Secretary, UAGO Office
Q: What are some of the duties as Permanent Secretary of the UAGO?
A: The main responsibility as Permanent Secretary is to make sure operations run smoothly. Quite a lot of resources are needed for the department as it is involved everywhere from drafting laws, being involved in cases where the Republic is prosecuting and reviewing laws and procedures of the ones drafted/passed. In order to upgrade our resources as the laws change, we have held up to 86 workshops and training modules for capability building as well as built 17 more courts and 7 staff housing.
Currently, we are focusing on making the laws of Myanmar accessible for everybody so that they are aware of their rights. The Myanmar Law and Information System is very helpful as the public can access up to 8800 different documents regarding laws, rules and procedures in Myanmar. There is also a Facebook page with constant news updates as well.

Translated by Myat Thu

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