Open letter to Association of Asian Constitutional Courts on Myanmar

[signatories will be collated until 18 June and then sent to the AACC; to sign click here]

This letter is on behalf of concerned scholars of comparative constitutional law and politics, listed below.

We call on the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AACC) to suspend the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union of Myanmar from its membership.

On 1 February 2021, the military staged a coup in Myanmar. This political development has serious and devastating consequences for the future of constitutional democracy in the country. The Civil Disobedience Movement is one of the main civil society groups opposing the military and has widespread public support. The coup not only means that the incoming elected government has been prevented from taking office, but it has also led to thousands of people being unfairly arrested and hundreds of people have been killed, documented by organisations such as the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

On 9 February, the military appointed a new bench of the Constitutional Tribunal. This amounted to the capture of the Constitutional Tribunal by the military.

The AACC was established “to promote the development of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Asian region”. We therefore call upon the AACC to suspend the Constitutional Tribunal from its membership for the duration of military rule in Myanmar and to revoke any invitations to regional meetings or conferences.

Regional and international networks like AACC can play an important role in sending a strong signal to Myanmar’s military that regional judicial networks will not cooperate with the institutions it has created and/or captured.

The Constitutional Tribunal could potentially have played an important role in Myanmar’s political transition post-2011, however, since 2021, the Constitutional Tribunal is squarely under the influence of the military.

The AACC should not cooperate with judicial institutions that are unable to uphold its mandate of promoting constitutional democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the region.

In Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG), the body that includes elected representatives and is acknowledged as the main opposition to the military, intends to abolish the 2008 Constitution and work towards a new Constitution that would provide for an independent Constitutional Tribunal under a federal system.

The AACC should publicly show its support for the NUG and its plans for an independent judiciary in a democratic Myanmar.

List of signatories:
Melissa Crouch, Professor, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Theunis Roux, Professor, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Rosalind Dixon, Professor, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Catherine Renshaw, Professor, School of Law, Western Sydney University, Australia
Associate Professor Maartje De Visser, YPH School of Law, Singapore
Martin Krygier, Professor, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Wojciech Sadurski, Professor, University of Sydney (Australia)
Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor, University of Sydney (Australia)
Tom Ginsburg, Professor, University of Chicago (USA)

Jeremy Webber, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria (Canada)

[further signatories to be added here]