Upper House committee backs bid to revoke law used against dissidents

THE Amyotha Hluttaw Bill Committee has expressed support for legislation to abolish the controversial 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, that was used under junta rule to jail political activists.

Committee member U Thein Lwin told the Upper House on September 2 that it joined the Pyithu Hluttaw in supporting a bill to revoke the Act, the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Thein Lwin was speaking after tabling a committee report on the proposal to revoke the Act, a move opposed by the unelected military bloc.

The report quoted military MP Brigadier-General Khin Maung Aye as saying the Act should be revoked only after a new law to protect the security of the country and its citizens was enacted, the newspaper said.

The Amyotha Hluttaw decided to discuss the bill “soon”, the GNLM said.

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Opposition parties tried three times during the term of the previous government to revoke the Act, which includes the notoriously vaguely-worded clause 5(j), that was widely used to arrest and jail dissidents for up to seven years.

The most recent attempt was in May last year, when a proposal by the National League of Democracy to scrap the Act was defeated in the Pyithu Hluttaw by 256 votes to 50, with 17 abstentions, the Irrawaddy reported.

Speaking in the Lower House after the vote last year, NLD MP U Win Myint said the Act preserved a redundant law that was designed to instill fear and restrict political activity.

“The Penal Code is already in place to prosecute those who break the law. It is unacceptable that [authorities] can repress citizens with another law,” Win Myint was quoted as saying by the Irrawaddy.

The previous attempts to amend or revoke the Act were proposed in 2011 and 2012 by New National Democratic Force MP, U Thein Nyunt, the online publication reported.

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