Saturday, November 29, 2014

"If they had hope, they would speak"

From "If they had hope, they would speak": The ongoing use of state-sponsored sexual violence in Burma's ethnic communities, a November 2014 report by the Women's League of Burma:
[T]he interaction of Burma’s 2008 Constitution with the country’s judicial framework provides the Burma Army with de facto impunity from prosecution. There are a number of key Constitutional clauses which leave the military unaccountable to civilian courts, and afford them de facto freedom from prosecution for crimes committed as a result of official duty. Incidence of sexual violence, attempted rape, torture, forced displacement and other human rights abuses committed by military personnel remain almost exclusively dealt with by military tribunals. Despite the recent transferral of a case of sexual violence to a civilian court, there is not yet evidence to suggest this is precedent setting. In relation to cases dealt with under the court-martial system, it is not the Supreme Court but the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services whose decision is final. Furthermore, those cases which are tried under civilian courts are overseen by a judiciary that lacks adequate independence from the Executive and the military, and is neither impartial nor effective. The interaction of these elements of Burma’s polity creates an environment in which the Burma Army operates with impunity.
Although rape is criminalised under Article 375 of the Myanmar Penal Code, and Article 376 allows courts to sentence convicted rapists to life in prison, serious punitive action taken against soldiers responsible for these crimes continues to be largely non-existent. The lack of transparency in Burma’s judicial system undermines not only the ability of survivors of sexual violence to achieve redress, reparations and rehabilitation, but also the efforts of the local police to enforce the law. This mindset permeates every level of the judicial paradigm, and seriously affects the work done by local police to undertake criminal proceedings against military personnel.
Related Al Jazeera article here

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