Myanmar ends warrantless household inspection

Parliament repeals law allowing warrantless searches of private homes, ordering residents to report overnight guests

Myanmar ends warrantless household inspection

World Bulletin / News Desk

Myanmar’s parliament approved Monday a bill to repeal a law allowing authority to conduct warrantless searches of private homes -- a method long used by previous regimes to suppress political activists.

The bill proposes to amend the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law enacted in 2012, which requires residents to inform government officials of overnight guests and to report personal data about those visitors.

Although all appointed military lawmakers objected the measure, the bill was approved after receiving 255 votes in favor, 155 against and four abstentions in the lower house Monday.

Last month, authorities detained 16 people during “midnight inspections” conducted under the law -- among them some Muslims who had been studying the Quran in Thingangyun Township of Yangon Region -- following complaints by a local nationalist group, according to the Myanmar Times.

They were charged under the 2012 law, which demands that citizens report overnight guests or be penalized for disobeying.

The new bill, which was approved by the upper house in June, removes articles 13(g) and 17.

The new legislation, however, states that guests whose visit would last for more than a month must report to local authorities.

The guest registration requirement had been enforced through late-night raids, commonly known as “midnight inspections”, often targeting individuals working with civil society organizations as well as political activists.

The administrator of Ngaputaw Township administrator in Ayeyawaddy region responded to the bill’s approval Monday by expressing concern about how authorities would be able to keep track of people in their jurisdiction and their whereabouts.

"As overnight guest registration is canceled, we are worrying that we would not know how many strangers are coming in or out," Aung Thu told Anadolu Agency by phone.

The bill was proposed after Myanmar’s first civilian government, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, took power in late March.

In late May, Fortify Rights had called on parliament to repeal provisions permitting guest registration and unwarranted searches which the international group said “have no place in a rights-respecting democracy”.

“For too long the military has used this law to suppress rather than protect human rights and fundamental,” its executive director, Matthew Smith, said in a statement.

“Many members of the NLD have themselves been adversely affected by this law. They know what’s at stake,” he had underlined.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Eylül 2016, 15:04