IBAHRI condemns death penalty ruling in U Ko Ni trial

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the sentencing to death in Myanmar of two men for their role in the murder of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni.

Kyi Lin and Aung Win Zaw, respectively, were found guilty of firing the gun and helping in the murder of lawyer Ko Ni, who was killed in broad daylight at Yangon International Airport in January 2017.

Myanmar’s Penal code provides for the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in cases of premeditated murder. The IBAHRI Council Resolution on the Abolition of the death penalty, adopted on 15 May 2008, and the 2016 IBAHRI report ‘Forced to Kill: The Mandatory Death Penalty and its Incompatibility with Fair Trial Standards’ maintain that the mandatory death penalty is illegal under the justice system of international law. Furthermore, under domestic law, any procedure that obliges a court to impose the death penalty is inherently flawed.

The IBAHRI is concerned that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in the recent verdict announced by Yangon Northern District Court, Myanmar, amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture.

The IBAHRI Council Resolution opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and called for its total abolition. In the interim, the IBAHRI Council has called on states to impose a moratorium on all death sentences.

While the IBAHRI cannot currently comment on the fairness of the trial, as it is to publish an in-depth report on the case later in the year, today’s statement is to register the human rights body’s complete opposition to the death penalty.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Article 302 of Myanmar’s Penal Code
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA) – the global voice of the legal profession – is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    In the ensuing 70 years since its creation, the organisation has evolved from an association comprised exclusively of bar associations and law societies to one that incorporates individual international lawyers and entire law firms. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4A 4AD

Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax: +44 (0)20 7842 0091

Email: romana.daniel@int-bar.org
Website: www.ibanet.org