January 2018

MLAA is providing legal advice, mediation, and court representation for vulnerable populations in the Ayeyarwady region, as well as raising awareness and advocating to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.

When Aung Moe*, a 14-year old disabled boy in a remote village, was charged with robbery, the Mahawthada Legal Aid Association (MLAA) stepped in to protect his human rights. Aung Moe had been jailed without bail for two months and was facing a prison sentence when the MLAA lawyers filed a petition with the court on July 20, 2017. He was released on bail on August 1st. After further investigation and support from the legal aid lawyers, the judge found that Aung Moe, who was born with malformation of his arms, was not guilty. With support from MLAA, the young boy avoided a criminal record and further violation of his rights.

MLAA is a civil society organization working in the Ayeyarwady region to protect the human rights of local citizens and to increase legal literacy. The Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) awarded a grant to MLAA, allowing its lawyers to provide free legal aid services, conduct awareness raising activities, and advocate for the rule of law.

MLAA has also supported farmers and local citizens in land rights cases. The legal aid lawyers were successful in gaining review of a decision denying local villagers access to farm land that had been abandoned by the government. The MLAA lawyers analyzed the facts, collected documents from farmers, and interviewed witnesses. They filed a complaint with the Ayeyarwady Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Breeding and Irrigation. In response, the Minister organized a commission to review the case. The chairman of the district land management office visited the area and collected information for the re-adjudication of this matter. MLAA exposed a lack of transparency and failure to comply with legal requirements for public notice and response.

MLAA lawyers also represented Kyint*, a woman whose human rights were violated when she was wrongfully detained in jail for 18 days on criminal charges. Kyint alleged the charges were the result of police corruption. After MLAA filed a complaint with the Ayeyarwady Regional Ministry of Social and Security Affairs requesting investigation, two policemen were disciplined.

Grant funding and technical assistance from PRLP is building the practical skills of lawyers to assist vulnerable populations in obtaining justice. This assistance protects human rights by increasing awareness and access to justice. Local citizens are empowered to advocate for the rule of law and demand a fairer and efficient justice system in Myanmar.

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