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Death penalty cases soar in Myanmar under military rule: Amnesty

Raising an alarm over the rights situation in Myanmar, Amnesty International has said the death penalty increased at an alarming rate under military rule


(Photo: Reuters)

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Raising an alarm over the rights situation in Myanmar, Amnesty International has said the death penalty increased at an alarming rate under military rule, with nearly 90 people sentenced to death by military tribunals since the coup last year.
"An alarming increase in the number of known death sentences was recorded in Myanmar, where the death penalty became a tool for the military in the ongoing and widespread persecution, intimidation and harassment of and violence on protesters and journalists. Before February 2021 the known death sentences were sporadically imposed for murder and usually commuted through mass pardons," the London-based group said in a report.
"However, the yearly total of 2021 (at least 86) represented an astonishing increase on the yearly average for the years 2017-2020, which had remained lower than 10. The last execution in Myanmar was known to have taken place in 1988," the report added.
Shortly after taking power in a coup on February 1, 2021, the military imposed a state of emergency under the authority of the Chairman of the State Administration Council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and on March 16 issued Martial Law Order.
Among other concerns, another order transferred the authority to try cases of civilians to special or existing military tribunals, for a wide range of offences including those involving the death penalty, through summary proceedings and without right to appeal. Those sentenced to death could seek a reversal of the decision by the Chairman of the State Administration Council.
Amnesty International gathered media reports and other limited information relating to at least 86 death sentences being imposed since February, mostly announced through military-controlled media. The death sentences were imposed by military tribunals or, in one case, a juvenile court on referral from a military tribunal.
The reports indicated that at least 26 defendants were tried and convicted while not being present; at least two were teenagers at the time of the alleged offence; and one man was reported as having a severe mental (psycho-social) disability.
According to the report, available information indicates that the proceedings were summary, with the defendants unable to access legal representation.
The human rights situation deteriorated dramatically after a military coup in February. Security forces killed over 1,000 people and detained many thousands of others who opposed the military takeover. Widespread torture of detainees was reported.
Armed conflict, including indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilians and civilian objects by the military, forcibly displaced tens of thousands of people.
Similar vast numbers remained displaced as result of past conflict or violence. People in areas affected by armed conflict lacked basic services, and in some areas the military blocked the delivery of humanitarian aid.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 31 2022 | 9:02 AM IST

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