YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar has repealed a law that the former military junta used to sentence dissidents to long prison terms, state media reported, in the latest step toward reforming the government after decades of authoritarian rule.
The law called for prison sentences of up to 20 years to those “who write or deliver speeches that could undermine peace and stability of the nation.” The Myanma Ahlin daily said Tuesday that the law was enacted in 1996 as the military government was drawing guidelines for the country’s constitution and faced opposition from many parties, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.
Several dissidents and anti-regime activists were given long sentences under the law. Myanmar’s opposition welcomed the move but remained cautious over other repressive laws.
“That law is actually irrelevant now because it was enacted during the drawing of the constitution guidelines. The constitution was adopted and already in force,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win said Wednesday.
Prominent activist lawyer Aung Thein said Wednesday that Myanmar still has other severe laws against the government’s opponents, including the one that put Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the past two decades. Some of the laws are punishable by death or life imprisonment.
“These laws had been used by the administrative authorities to support their judicial power. The laws are very elastic and can be used according to their requirement,” he said.