Category Archives: military justice

If a soldier commits a crime…

It’s not uncommon for justice systems to permit the military to try their own soldiers in a separate courts-martial system. However, in more democratic countries, the constitution generally grants defendants the right to appeal their cases to the regular judiciary. Moreover, the military justice system’s jurisdiction is usually limited to incidents that occurred during the course in the line of duty.

By contrast, Myanmar’s new constitution establishes an autonomous system of military justice, in which not even the Supreme Court can exercise review of courts-martial. In an article posted on Mizzima, U Myo and James Tager argue that the Constitutional Tribunal can and should limit the military justice system’s jurisdiction and ensure that the regular courts can exercise review. While I suspect some of their prescriptions are somewhat idealistic, to say the least, they nonetheless provide a useful overview of the problems Myanmar’s military justice system might face. You can read the whole article here.

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Burmese justice

I can’t recall ever seeing the Burmese junta taking legal action against one of its own soldiers in order to punish high-profile human-rights abuses. Yet, that’s what it appears might just happen in response to a shooting in Pegu. According to the government-run New Light of Myanmar, a lawsuit will be filed against the soldiers who shot two residents dead after a dispute. The junta still blames pro-democracy elements for inciting the incident, but is suggesting that the soldiers deserve to be subjected to legal scrutiny (of course, whether it results in conviction is another story). This type of response is very rare – indeed, I can’t recall seeing anything like it before. I’ll make sure to follow the case, and what it might imply about the military courts under the new constitution. (Irrawaddy has more details on the story).

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