The current Child’s Right Law have 19 chapters -we are expanding it to 30. The new chapters are added as lawmakers try to cover more ground and see what else the children need. Dr San San Aye
- By Shin Min
The roundtable on the drafting of the laws regarding protecting the rights of children with Professor Dr. Aung Tun Thet, Director General of Social Welfare Department Dr San San Aye, Deputy Director General of the Attorney General’s Office Dr Thida San, Yangon Region constituency 10, Amyohta Hluttaw Representative Naw Hla Hla Soe and Consultants U Myo Myint Tun and U Ko Ko, was filmed and released by MRTV.
U Ko Ko: This is a law that a lot of people are interested in. Can you discuss about how the law came to be drafted and what it aims to achieve?
Dr. San San Aye: The rights for children first came up during the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which Myanmar is a signatory in 1991. The convention has five main objectives for the signatory country: for the country to have a law that is in line with the convention, have a national mechanism committee, execution, enforcement and reporting. Two years after the convention in 1993, Myanmar’s Child’s Rights Law was promulgated in 1993 as a domestic law governing a variety of issues concerning children, with by-laws were enacted in 2001. Currently, the World is tasked with child protection across the world.
U Ko Ko: Why is another law being drafted regarding the same issue?
Dr San San Aye: I’d like compare the two. The current Child Law have 19 chapters -we are expanding it to 30. The new chapters are added as lawmakers try to cover more ground and see what else the children need.
U Ko Ko: Dr Aung Tun Thet, you have worked at the UN Staff College as a principal and has been involved in issues regarding children’s rights. What are your thoughts on this new law?
Dr Aung Tun Thet: That was a time when I was working with the Ministry of Health to get Myanmar to be a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Of course there were a lot of obstacles considering the situation during the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, we made sure Myanmar was a part of the convention because we realized how important it was for us to be part of an institution and a system that rallies for the rights of children. Currently, in our society, there are a lot of bad news concerning children -unthinkable ones even. This really was a call for a proper system to be put in place to protect these children. The law aims to respect, protect and find solutions for children that is within our jurisdiction. The worst cases that includes children are rape and trafficking.
U Ko Ko: Naw Hla Hla Soe, as a parliament representation, can you tell us a little bit about how the process and debate was like in the legislation?
Naw Hla Hla Soe: A lot of ministries were involved for this drafting. It was submitted to Hluttaw in 2017 and that July was when there were press releases and announcements from the parliament that the government was looking at ways to draft this law. This attracted NGOs and INGOs from across Myanmar and internationally that wanted to cooperate with us. We also tried to get as much feedback from the Community Service Organizations (CSOs).
U Ko Ko: Naw Hla Hla Soe mentioned the role of CSOs in the new draft law. Can you explain more about that for us U Myo Myint Tun?
U Myo Myint Tun: The new government came in office with a new constitution in 2011. There have been suggestions made since then to improve the lives of children in Myanmar, especially in the form of preventing crimes against them whether it’d be physical, domestic and/or sexual abuse. You can see a lot of CSO’s suggestions being put into place in the new law including instances like kidnapping and forced labor. The sentencing has also been increased so that perpetrators won’t get off with just a slap on the wrist. The process is also further streamlined.
U Ko Ko: What about from a legal perspective? Where is the law at in this stage?
Dr Thida San: You can call it a draft of a law since it’s in the parliament up for debate. When its been written, we invited the relevant ministries for further consultation. Then after further debate -perhaps maybe 6- we put the document up to the cabinet which will then go on to the parliament. Currently, it is currently awaiting the signature of the president.
The new law defines a minor for anyone under the age of 18. This is 2 year increase from the convention’s 16. A lot of factors played into this decision such as what our neighboring countries have done and what really is the universal standard.
(To be continued)
(Translated by Myat Thu)