Myanmar legal system yet to reach global standards: expert
By Shivali Nayak
Myanmar's legal system is rapidly changing, but it still has a long way to go to reach international standards.
That's according to Dr Melissa Crouch, a researcher from the National University of Singapore's Centre for Asian Legal Studies.
A recent report by the International Bar Association identified a number of areas Myanmar didn't reach international legal standards.
Dr Crouch is one of the co-editors of a handbook which aims to address the legal challenges the country is facing as it transitions towards democracy.
The 20-chapter publication, which will be out next year, is drawing on expertise from around the region to provide guidance."[It is] trying to capture some of the... legislative reforms that are currently taking place as well as putting those in their historical and social context," Dr Crouch told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific progam.
Dr Crouch says the rule of law, which was drafted under the control of the military, is a topic of concern for the people of Myanmar.
"The rule of law is certainly the word on everyone's lips in Myanmar at the moment," she said.
"There's a lot of discussion and debate in the media at the moment about revising the constitution before the 2015 elections."
Myanmar will hold its presidential elections in 2015.
The current constitution bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running.
"What I think is really important is that the people of Myanmar themselves are able to have frank and open discussions about what the rule of law will look like and how it can be strengthened in their particular context," Dr Crouch said.
The current constitution allows military officials to hold a parliament seat.
"So... if the country is to make a full transition towards democracy... the military should no longer be in the parliament," Dr Crouch said.
"The military should not have the power to elect ministers which it currently does have the power to do."
Open for business
Myanmar will host the ASEAN summit next year after it took over the leadership of the 10-member grouping on Thursday.
This is despite continuing concern over a range of issues, including the government's failure to control sectarian violence and questions over its adherence to the rule of law.
More countries and companies are increasingly doing business with Myanmar, but the transition to a more democratic form of legal system has many challenges.
However, Dr Crouch says some significant reforms have been put in place.
"For example, there has been a new law and regulation passed on foreign investment as well as on special economic zones," she said.
"Many of these are still in their very early stages of implementation though, so it will take some time to see how they will actually... be interpreted and how they operate in practice."
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