Outcome Statement of Workshop on Consideration of a Moratorium on the Application of Death Penalty, pending its abolition

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

31 October 2017

 The Workshop on the Moratorium of the Death Penalty was held at Hotel Max, Nay Pyi Taw on 30-31 October 2017 organized by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and supported by the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF). The workshop was attended by 33 participants including Parliamentarians, Senior Government Officials from the President’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs (General Administration Department, Myanmar Police Force and Prison Department), Ministry of Defense, Union Supreme Court, Ministry of Education, Union Attorney General’s Office, and representatives from civil society organizations, the media and Members of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and its officials.

The objective of the Workshop is to recommend the government to consider initiating a moratorium on the application of death penalty, pending its abolition.

The Workshop commenced with the welcoming remarks by U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.  In the welcoming remarks, the Chairman stated that Myanmar has not carried out any execution since 1988, that it is considered abolitionist in practice, although the death sentence is imposed on offenders in serious crimes. The Chairman requested the participants to freely express their views and comments with regard to considering a moratorium on the application of the death penalty based on prevailing practices.

In the Workshop, presentations were made by the international expert Dr. Jon Yorke, Professor of Human Rights in the School of Law, Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom and Director of the Centre for Human Rights. He shared his views and experiences regarding the Evolution of the UN Legislative Mandate Towards the Abolition of the death penalty, and on the theme of Multilateralism and the Movement Towards Global Abolition, based on the human rights perspective on the death penalty. Dr. Yorke raised some pertinent points regarding the denunciation of the death penalty as an expression of legitimate contemporary state sovereignty and the solidity of the human rights standards for rejecting the use of the death penalty and for enhancing the human dignity of the victims of crimes.

It was then followed by presentation made by U Soe Phone Myint, Member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, focusing on the relevant provisions of the domestic criminal laws, rulings and precedents relating to the imposition of the death penalty in serious crimes, and granting of pardon by the President under the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Next, U Khin Maung Lay, Member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission made his presentation, discussing his Impressions on the experiences with regard to the 6th World Congress on the Abolition of Death Penalty.

The participants then discussed and expressed their views on the prospective moratorium on the application of death penalty, pending its abolition.

In the open discussions by the participants, it was noted that in Myanmar, the death penalty is not usually imposed in every criminal case. It is imposed only in the most serious crimes, whereby a court has no choice, but, is compelled under such criminal sanction to impose the death penalty according to law. The discussions also noted that although the death penalty is imposed in Myanmar according to law, no execution has been carried out since 1988. Accordingly Myanmar is considered to be on the list of abolitionist in practice.

The ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent against murder was highlighted. It was discussed that within the capital judicial system there may be possibility of misuse and there may be mistakes.

Since Myanmar is considered abolitionist in practice, the workshop recommends the government to consider a moratorium on the application of the death penalty, pending its abolition.

Due to the reasons above, the workshop recommends:

  1. A moratorium on the death penalty enables within domestic law:
  2. The identification of effective alternative punishments
  3. Prevents misconceptions concerning a possible rise in crime rates
  4. Educates the public on the benefits of a more humane criminal justice system
  5. Enables the government to chart the next steps towards the domestic abolition of the death penalty
  1. A moratorium on the death penalty enables within the international arena:
  2. Establishes the legal and political platform for the government to participate effectively in the international arena on the question of the death penalty.
  3. Enables the government to contribute further to the moratorium of the death penalty in the Asia Pacific region.
  4. Establishes the legal and political platform for the government to accede to the ICCPR.
  1. While commending the government for the impending legislative provisions consistent with the CRC, the workshop recommends the prohibition of the death penalty on pregnant women, women with dependent children, for the elderly and for the persons with disabilities.