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Showing posts from November, 2016

Professional Legal Education in Commercial and Corporate Law in Myanmar

Dr Melissa Crouch and Associate Professor Lisa Toohey of UNSW Law Faculty are undertaking a Professional Legal Education Project in Commercial and Corporate law in Myanmar (2016-2017), funded by the Asian Development Bank.  Melissa Crouch is the Team leader and Legal Education and Myanmar Law expert. Lisa Toohey is the Legal Education and Commercial Law expert on the project.  Emma Dunlop is the Legal Researcher and Project administrator. Melissa Crouch at the USC Strategic Action Plan meeting 2016 The focus of the project is on improving legal education and skills integral to the transactional practice and adjudication of commercial law, at this critical time in Myanmar's transition to democracy. The project includes developing a training program for the practical legal training needs of private lawyers, government lawyers, prosecutors and judges in commercial and financial law.  Melissa, Lisa and Melinda with law students from Dagon University In 2016, the first stag

The Role and Function of a Constitutional Court

On 25-26 November 2016, a workshop was held with the Myanmar Constitutional Tribunal in Naypyidaw on "The Role and Function of a Constitutional Court in Comparative Perspective".   The conference was organised by the Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, and supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The conference was attended by the nine members of the Constitutional Tribunal and 40 of their research staff. The two speakers for the event were Professor Theunis Roux and Dr Melissa Crouch of the University of New South Wales. The workshop included the following sessions: Day 1 Session 1: The Role of a Constitutional Tribunal in a Democracy - Theunis Roux Session 2: Jurisdiction of the Constitutional Tribunal - U Kyaw San Session 3: Constitutional Interpretation - Theunis Roux Session 4: Public Profile of the Constitutional Tribunal - Melissa Crouch Day 2 Session 1: Procedure and Access to the Tribunal - Melissa Crouch Session 2: Remedies i

Building a Constitutional Culture in Myanmar

From 22 to 23 November, the Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project led by UNSW Law held a workshop on Building a Constitutional Culture in Myanmar. Over 60 participants attended including lawyers, civil society organisations, former judges, academics and students. This represented the fourth year of this program, that has now included 9 major workshops and over 600 participants. Discussions, debate and education on constitutional law remain of critical importance in Myanmar since the country made its transition from direct military rule in 2011. The program for the conference included: Day 1 Panel 1 - Constitution and Politics in Myanmar, Challenges and Opportunities, Martin Krygier and Wojciech Sadurski Panel 2 - Constitutions and Constitutionalism in Myanmar, Melissa Crouch and Wojciech Sadurski Panel 3: Valued Ideals: The Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Judicial Independence, Martin Krygier and Adam Czarnota Panel 4: Valued Ideals: Fe

What do the blasphemy allegations against Ahok mean?

Indonesian police last week declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy, over a speech he gave in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. In the wake of the police decision, Indonesia at Melbourne spoke to Dr Melissa Crouch, who has  published widely on Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law (link is external)  (Law No. 1/PNPS/1965), about the  growing use of the law in democratic Indonesia , and the possible consequences for Ahok. Indonesia is a majority Muslim country but the state officially recognises five other religions. Has the Blasphemy Law only been used to prosecute those who blaspheme Islam? All cases prior to 1998 were for blaspheming Islam. While the majority of prosecutions have been charges of blaspheming Islam, there have been a handful of cases since 1998 where a person has been charged with blaspheming another religion. For example, in the Pondok Nabi case, a protestant pastor, Mangapin Sibuea, was accused of blaspheming Christian

Blasphemy charges against Ahok a triumph for Islamists in Indonesia

Note: this article first appeared in the East Asia Forum One of the most high profile blasphemy allegations may soon be brought before a court in Indonesia. Thousands of Islamists turned out in Jakarta recently to demand that Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, the Governor of Jakarta, be charged with blaspheming Islam.   Some protestors displayed sinister signs, demanding that he be put to death. The rally presented an immediate security concern for the Indonesian government. But this issue is likely to drag on. The   Islamic Defenders Front , a notorious radical Islamic group in Indonesia, has already filed a complaint against Ahok with the police. In a significant escalation, on 16 November police announced that the governor had been made a suspect in a blasphemy investigation and would move quickly to prepare a case for prosecutors. The complaint relates to an event on 27 September at which Ahok made reference to a verse of the Quran, al-Maidah 51. The verse, which warns M

Reining in Emergency Powers in Myanmar

This article first appeared in the  East Asia Fo rum , 3 November 2016 In October 2016 serious concerns were raised about the situation in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State after   reports   surfaced that nine police officers had been killed in the region. But the state’s precarious situation continues to be shrouded in mystery.   Speculation over the motives of the perpetrators and unsubstantiated claims that it may be linked to Islamic terrorism has taken attention away from another pressing threat: the potential abuse of executive power.   The curfews in the Rakhine State townships of Maungdaw and Buthedaung have been increased, with limitations on freedom of movement from 7pm until 6am. Yet there has been little questioning of why this curfew — instated under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code — has remained in place for so long or whether the extension of the curfew is justified.   One of former president Thein Sein’s acts in his final days of power was to   declare

Annual Review of Constitution-building

The 2015 Annual Review of Constitution-Building Processes has recently been published and is available free online from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. This is the third edition published by International IDEA. The contents of the 2015 edition are as follows:  Introduction and overview,  Sumit Bisarya 1. Constitutional protections of electoral democracy in Africa: a review of key challenges and prospects,  Ken O. Opalo 2. Constitution-building in the Pacific in 2015 Anna Dziedzic and Cheryl Saunders 3. Forces and mechanisms in plurinational constitution-building in South Asia,  Sumit Bisarya 4. Between endurance and change in South-East Asia: the military and constitutional reform in Myanmar and Thailand Melissa Crouch and Tom Ginsburg 5. Reforming centralism and supervision in Armenia and Ukraine,  William Partlett 6. The role of constitutional identity in the responses to the terror attacks in France and the refugee-managemen