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Amnesty urges Myanmar to repeal presidential immunity law

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called on the government of Myanmar Thursday to either repeal or amend [text] a law that could grant former presidents immunity from prosecution for human rights violations and crimes under international law. The outgoing Myanmar Parliament [official website, in Burmese] approved the Former Presidents Security Law, which could grant blanket immunity to former presidents for actions committed in office with an exception for a successful impeachment vote [AA report]. AI noted that while the provision, "in accordance with the laws," added in the final version approved today, was an improvement, the law could still be interpreted as a grant of immunity to former presidents. AI went on to state that the law was "a threat to families' rights to justice, truth and reparations and could violate Myanmar's obligation to prosecute crimes under international law."

This development also comes in the wake of significant pressure from several members of the international community including human rights groups, the UN, and other countries. Last week Myanmar began the process of releasing [JURIST report] the first set of 102 mostly political prisoners days before a democratic power transfer takes place in Myanmar's parliament [official website, in Burmese]. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Myanmar to release all remaining prisoners currently being held for political and religious violations. The National League for Democracy Party (NLD) [official website, in Burmese], which won the national election [JURIST report] last November, promised [Myanmar Times report] that there will be no political prisoners when they take office in late March. However, HRW Asia Director Phil Robertson had stressed [HRW report] that current Myanmar President Thein Sein should immediately fulfill a similar promise he made in 2012.

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