Lawyers Can Get Revoked Licenses Back in Burma

Lawyers and other professionals who have lost their licenses for prior involvement in politics can now apply to get them back, according to copies of documents obtained by the Asian Human Rights Commission, a non-profit human rights organization based in Hong Kong.

In a written reply dated April 24th to a question submitted by an MP in January, the government has indicated that lawyers, doctors and licensed educational tutors can now get their licenses back if “no cause exists to deny them on grounds of codes of conduct or discipline under the relevant laws and rules.”

The AHRC, which has been campaigning for 32 lawyers who had their licences revoked for political reasons, many of whom also spent time in jail, welcomed the news. AHRC Executive Director Wong Kai Shing said he hoped lawyers who had lost licenses for political reasons or for working on human rights cases would soon get them back.

“None of these 32 lawyers, plus at least two others of which we are also aware, violated any laws or rules to warrant the revocation of their licences,” Wong said. “Furthermore, government authorities themselves violated the rules by unilaterally revoking the licenses, and by failing to allow these lawyers to represent themselves in full and open inquiries into their alleged infractions,” he noted.

Wong also called for further unilateral revocations of licences to cease, and for no more lawyers to be investigated simply for representing the interests of their clients according to law.

He added that AHRC expects that if these lawyers’ applications are assessed fairly and according to the terms of the two relevant laws on the licensing and practice of law, these professionals can again soon represent clients in court.

Recently, the AHRC reported that two lawyers representing Phyo Wai Aung, a young man tortured to confess to a bombing in 2010 who has been sentenced to death by a closed court at the central prison, were accused of insulting the court. The judge ordered that they and their client be investigated for possible legal action. To date, the matter is pending.

The regional human rights group has also established a webpage in support of the lawyers who have lost their licences.

“We encourage lawyers and their associations everywhere to write letters in support of their peers in Burma, who for many years have struggled under very difficult conditions to represent not only their clients but also to stand up for fundamental human rights,” Wong said.

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