Myanmar amends law on protecting citizens’ personal freedom, security

Myanmar’s new military-led State Administration Council led by Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing issued an order amending the Protection of the Citizens for the Personal Freedom and Personal Security Law.

According to the order issued on Saturday, Sections 5, 7 and 8 of the law will be suspended during the state of emergency declared on February 1, reports Xinhua news agency.

The suspended Section 5 says that the relevant ministry and responsible authorities shall ensure that there is no damage to the privacy and security of the citizen except where this occurs in accordance with existing law, and when acting in accordance with existing law, the authorities shall not enter into a person’s residence or private places for the purpose of search, seizure, or arrest, unless accompanied by minimum of two witnesses from local administration organizations.

The suspended Section 7 of the law says that no one shall be detained for more than 24 hours without permission from a court unless the detention is in accordance with existing law.

The Section 8 limited entering into a citizen’s private residence or room for the purpose of search, seizure, or arrest, surveilling, spying upon or investigating any citizen which could disturb their privacy and security or affect their dignity, intercepting or disturbing any citizen’s communication with another person or communications equipment in any way, demanding or obtaining personal telephonic and electronic communications data from telecom operators without order, permission or warrant in accordance with existing law or responsible authority.

It also prohibited opening, searching, seizing or destroying another person’s private correspondence, envelope, package or parcel, unlawfully interfering with a citizen’s personal or family matters or act in any way to slander or harm their reputation and unlawfully seizing the lawfully owned movable or immoveable property of a citizen or intentionally destroying either directly or by indirect means.

The one-year state of emergency was declared in Myanmar after former President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained along with other officials from National League for Democracy (NLD) by the military on February 1 after which a coup was staged.

The state power was handed over to Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and the State Administration Council was formed later.

The military had demanded the postponement of new parliamentary sessions, citing massive voting fraud in the November 8, 2020 general elections, which saw the NLD win a majority of seats in both houses of parliament.

Myanmar’s Union Election Commission dismissed the allegation.