Judicial Power in Myanmar and the Challenge of Judicial Independence
Melissa Crouch (2017) ‘Judicial Power in Myanmar and the Challenge of Judicial Independence’ in HP Lee and Marilyn Pittard (ed) Asia-Pacific Judiciaries: Independence, Impartiality and Integrity. Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming
Posted: 2 Mar 2017 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: February 26, 2017
What can be learnt about the idea and ideal of judicial independence in authoritarian regimes? While idealised international standards and declarations of judicial independence note the need for separation from the executive, there is more often silence on the relative position of the courts in relation to the military. Yet in country’s like Myanmar’s semi-military regime (2011-), discussions of judicial independence from the executive and legislature make little sense unless we first consider separation from military rule. Military involvement in the courts, both at a personal and institutional level, has become the norm over past decades in Myanmar. In light of this reality, this chapter considers the nature of judicial power of the Constitutional Tribunal and Supreme Court. It highlights debates raised over appointment and removal procedures, questions over which court should have jurisdiction on constitutional review matters, concerns of military-executive interference and the domineering attitude of the Parliament towards the courts. As a recent yellow ribbon campaign protesting against military transfers into the courts highlights, independence of the courts from military influence is a necessary yet difficult first step forward.
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