Myanmar, Disbarred lawyers (April 2012)

The Law Society of Upper Canada was notified that 32 lawyers who have had their licenses revoked following criminal convictions are currently seeking reinstatement. The Law Society is concerned that the use of criminal sanctions and subsequent disbarment of some or all of these lawyers was a tactic to punish these lawyers for their political activities. Given this apparent serious threat to the independence of the legal profession in Myanmar, the governing board of the Law Society of Upper Canada is considering issuing a public statement calling on the government of Myanmar to conduct a review of the cases of the 32 lawyers and to reinstate all lawyers whose licenses were revoked as a result of their legitimate political or professional activities.

Since the election in November of 2010 and President Sein Thein assuming office, there have been many important changes in Myanmar. There is a movement towards increased freedom of speech. It is hoped that the by-elections that took place on April 1, 2012 will result in a more free and democratic society. Many political prisoners have been released. Certain lawyers who were imprisoned have been freed, although they remain unable to practise law. In view of these positive changes, and in view of the continued disbarment of lawyers, the Law Society's Human Rights Monitoring Group thought it appropriate that before it makes a decision on what position to take in regard to the 32 lawyers, and what public statement the Law Society might issue in regard to those lawyers, it seek further information as to the background offences that led to these 32 lawyers being removed from the practice of law.

The Monitoring Group seeks specific, detailed information concerning the criminal convictions that led to the subsequent disbarment of the following Supreme Court Advocates and Higher Grade Pleaders.

Letter requesting information