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Myanmar repeals junta law for sentencing dissidents

Myanmar repealed a law on Tuesday that was used by the nation's military junta to impose long prison sentences on dissidents. The law, which was revoked by President Thein Sein [BBC profile], banned protests against the national convention and allowed for prison sentences of up to 20 years for writing or delivering speeches that pose a threat [AP report] to Myanmar's peace and stability. Activists like Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and members of her opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have opposed the law which was enacted in 1996. Some activists are calling for Myanmar to repeal other similar laws that have lingered since the military junta's demise in 2011. Parliament is set to approve the repeal today.

Myanmar has taken steps to reform its human rights records in recent months, but has also faced criticism for not doing enough. Earlier this week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on authorities in Myanmar to drop criminal charges against nine peaceful protesters [JURIST report] who were demonstrating without a permit in Rangoon in September on International Peace Day. Myanmar began releasing political prisoners [JURIST report] including political dissidents and former military intelligence personnel in November in conjunction with US President Barack Obama's visit to the nation. Myanmar officials in September announced amnesty for 514 prisoners [JURIST report], identified by activists to be several political detainees and foreigners. That same day, HRW publicly demanded the immediate release of all remaining political prisoners in Myanmar and called for a lifting of travel and other restrictions on those who are freed.

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