The Irrawaddy has another rare look at the life of human rights lawyers in Burma. In today’s edition, there is short article about Pho Phyu, a lawyer who has worked on several human rights cases in Myanmar, from land confiscation victims to child soldiers. Pho Phyu has been arrested several times, most recently when he failed to appear before the court for a trial hearing. He was released when two of his clients – farmers whose land had been confiscated – raised the money to pay bail.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of political science literature about the role of lawyers in fostering judicial independence. However, Charles Epp (whose books are pictured here) claims activist lawyers are at least as a important as activist judges. The demand side for the rule of law is a critical and often overlooked component.
It’s certainly too early to predict anything like a rights revolution in Myanmar. However, it should be interesting to see how Burma’s human rights lawyers use the new Constitutional Tribunal – if they do at all.