A new issue for Myanmar’s Supreme Court – the environment

I’ve often mentioned Myanmar’s Supreme Court on this blog in the context of judicial independence and political opposition. Recently, several Burmese environmentalists and politicians brought a petition before the Court asking it to halt the Myitsone Dam in Kachin State. It seems the plaintiffs are asking the Court to order the government to release more information about the proposed impacts of the dam (writ of quo warrant) and to halt construction of the dam until a cost-benefit analysis is conducted (writ of prohibition). According to Mizzima, independent MP Win Cho said, “If MPs cannot get real information about the Myitsone Dam construction and the possibility of the extinction of Irrawaddy River before the parliament ends, we will file suit.” 
I don’t recall any other cases in the Burmese Supreme Court quite like this one. However, it does coincide with National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent emphasis on environmental issues. Indeed, Joshua Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently proposed that environmental issues would be a safer issue for Burma’s political opposition. However, I don’t yet have any idea how the Supreme Court treats environmental issues or whether this petition will have more success. While environmental issues might not be as controversial as political prisoners, the political elite will likely not permit challenges to flagship infrastructure projects to be litigated in court.

UPDATE: It seems the government is split on the Myitsone Dam issue as well, with Thein Sein opposing it. Irrawaddy has an article highlighting some of the interesting – albeit heresy – debate.

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