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IBAHRI announces formation of High Level Panel to review trials of political leaders in Myanmar

Thursday 1 July 2021

Image credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com (left) wikimedia.org/Pete Souza (right)

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has announced the formation of a High Level Panel of internationally renowned lawyers to review the trials of the political leaders State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint in Myanmar. Through reliable sources in Myanmar, the High Level Panel will conduct a paper review to determine whether there is adherence to due process and the Rule of Law.

Whilst it would have been preferable for the Panel to conduct a full trial observation through an independent trial observer in the Court, the Panel has not been granted access to the court proceedings, following a letter to the Union Supreme Court of Myanmar, which requested either a livestream or a recording of the proceedings. Therefore, the Panel will conduct a review in this unconventional way.

The Panel of distinguished lawyers, set out below, will conduct an independent assessment of the trials and be signatory to periodic written reports detailing how the trials conform to due process requirements and internationally accepted norms and principles of natural justice.

  • Dr Mark Ellis, United Kingdom, Executive Director of the International Bar Association;
  • Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, UK, Professor Emeritus of Public Law at University College London, former Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and the UK’s representative on the Venice Commission;
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, UK, one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers, Director of the IBAHRI, member of the House of Lords;
  • Harish Salve QC, India, Former Solicitor General of India, Blackstone Chambers;
  • Paola Severino, Italy, former Italian Justice Minister and full Professor of Criminal Law and Vice President of Luiss Guido Carli University;
  • Larry Taman, Canada, Law Professor, former Deputy Attorney General of Ontario, former UNDP senior international adviser in Myanmar; and
  • Jung-Hoon Lee, South Korea, Dean & Professor of International Relations, Yonsei University, former Ambassador for North Korean Human Rights.

Charges against President U Win Myint include breach of the constitution. Charges against State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi include breaking state secrecy law, sedition, the illegal import and use of walkie-talkies with her bodyguards and the breaking of COVID-19 regulations.  Reports already suggest that their full pre-trial rights have not been granted. Both State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint have made several appearances in court and all cases were adjourned to 5 July. Journalists were not allowed into the courtroom.   

The IBAHRI is in a unique position to conduct such work in Myanmar, having facilitated the establishment of the Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar, from 2014 to 2016. The IBAHRI has also released a report on a trial observation conducted in Myanmar into the proceedings taken against four accused charged with the murder of U Ko Ni, a prominent lawyer and legal adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi. The IBAHRI has undertaken trial observations in more than 24 countries and developed rigorous standards for such trial observations. Whilst regretfully impossible in this instance to conduct a full observation, the IBAHRI seeks through its review and independent oversight to confirm, to the world whether or not the trials are conforming to international standards of fair trials and due process.


Notes to the Editor

  1. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working 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.
  2. Find the IBAHRI (@IBAHRI) on social media here:
  3. 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.

For further information, please contact: hri@int-bar.org​​​​​​​

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