MYANMAR: JUNTA TRIBUNALS IMPOSE 65 DEATH SENTENCES
July 21, 2021:
The Myanmar junta’s military tribunals have sentenced 65 people to death following unjust trials since the military coup on 1 February 2021, Human Rights Watch said on 21 July 2021. (Source: Human Rights Watch, 21/07/2021)
State media and local groups have reported that 26 of those sentenced are currently detained, while 39 were convicted in absentia.
Military tribunals handed down the death sentences in areas of Yangon where the junta declared martial law in March. In imposing martial law, the junta transferred all executive and judicial power to the head of the relevant regional military command and instituted the death penalty as a possible sentence for 23 crimes.
On 14 and 15 March, the State Administration Council (SAC) junta declared martial law in 11 townships in Yangon and Mandalay, following a weekend in which security forces killed an estimated 120 people during anti-coup protests.
The Yangon commander, Maj. Gen. Nyunt Win Swe, was granted oversight of all administrative and judicial powers in the designated Yangon townships.
The martial law orders lay out 23 categories of crimes to be charged in military tribunals in the designated townships, all of them carrying a potential sentence of capital punishment. The designated offenses include several put in place by the junta since the coup. The majority are not capital crimes in civilian courts.
The 65 death sentences have been imposed for murder charges under penal code sections 302, 396, and 397.
The martial law regulations require the SAC chair, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, to approve all execution orders. They also state there is “no appeal for decisions or convictions handed down” by a military tribunal.
The only option for defendants sentenced to death is to apply to the SAC chair within 15 days of the conviction to reverse the decision.
Min Aung Hlaing has the authority to overturn the decision, change the sentence to a lesser penalty, or approve the decision. The applications can only be filed through prison officials, not lawyers, Radio Free Asia reported.