NGOs call for Section 66(d) axe

Writer: 
Myo Min Htet

NGOs have proposed that the hated Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law should be either amended or revoked, according to Lower House MP Tin Maung Win of Seikkkan and chairman of Lower House’s Committee of Transport, Communications and Construction.

Tin Maung Win said: "The Telecommunication Law is related to the Committee for Transport, Communications and Construction. NGOs, especially rights groups, met the committee and discussed if the law could be amended or revoked. 

"They pointed out that the law is not replicated internationally so it should be cancelled. For our side, we have to listen to the voices from the committee and the ministry, as well as the people. Only with a review of all suggestions can we consider an action,” Tin Maung Win added.

Any citizen can use Section 66(d) to sue for alleged online abuse, regardless of whether they were the subject of the remarks. It carries a threat of up to three years in prison and suspects are normally refused bail, which is deeply controversial for alleged defamation, meaning it is often used to jail journalists and political activists during prolonged trials

He added that they had not been asked how to propose changes to the law.

I don’t mean to revoke the Telecommunications Law, but I think it should be amended. The judge has the right to grant bail but they usually do not. I don’t know why. It should be amended in line with the international principles,” Tin Maung Win said.

He said the meeting agreed it should be amended. 

A report this month by the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said that there were approximately 300 political prisoners.

According to the report, 299 people were detained for their political activities and 93 political prisoners were serving sentences. It said 85 activists were facing trials while held in custody and 121 were on bail during their trials.

The report said four people were being prosecuted under Section 66(d) and 50 Letpadaungtaung residents were prosecuted for protesting against the Sagaing Region copper mine project.

The report accused the government of using legislation like Section 66(d) to ban free expression.

 

Translated by Win Htut