The Everyday Emergency: Between the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure in Myanmar
Constitutional Change and Legal Reform in Myanmar, Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2016
Date Written: January 7, 2016
This article examines the use of emergency powers in the context of Myanmar. It argues that constitutional power to declare an emergency in Myanmar is in practice dependent on executive power under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Although the power to declare a state of emergency in the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar appears extensive and far-reaching, I argue that the more immediate, everyday threat is the routine and pervasive use of section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I consider how the use of a section 144 order as an aspect of colonial judicial power to address a situation of social unrest has in fact been co-opted by the executive to generate a perpetual sense of the ‘everyday emergency.’ This is illustrated with reference to administrative responses to the anti-Indian violence of the 1930s in colonial Burma, and the anti-Muslim violence since 2012 in Myanmar. This demonstrates that section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure constitutes the most real, immediate power of executive officials, preceding any exercise of constitutional power.
Keywords: constitutional law, Myanmar, Code of Criminal Procedure, Constitution, violence, threat, judicial power, social unrest
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