Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

BURMA: Abused Child Worker Who Seeks Justice Suffers Further Abuse in Courtroom

By Asian Human Rights Commission  •  August 27, 2012

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently brought you details of a case in which police conspired with the employer of a young girl who allegedly abused and murdered her to cover up the facts (AHRC-UAC-136-2012). In this Urgent Appeal, we wish to inform you of another case in which a young girl who has been severely brutalized by her employer has brought a charge against the employer to court; however, the judge and other authorities are clearly siding with the employer and are further traumatizing the girl in order to derail the case.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On 5 July 2012 Daw Khin Nilar Win physically assaulted an underage girl who had recently started working at her house in Mandalay [name withheld], for failure to sweep as she had been instructed. During the assault, Khin Nilar Win hit the girl with a chair and with high heels. The employer then said that she would show the girl how to iron smoothly, and applied a hot iron to her leg. She also scrubbed her arm with an iron brush, telling her “this is how to scrub”. As a result of the assault the complainant suffered abrasions to her head and face, her left arm was fractured, and she had burns and bruising.

After the assault, the complainant fled from the house and sought help from people she knew in the neighbourhood. This assault was not the first that the girl had suffered. According to information that came out subsequently, she had not only been beaten but had also already been forced to eat mosquito protection coil, causing her to vomit a foamy liquid; and, was on another occasion forced to lick up tamarind leaves that she had dropped onto a rough concrete floor.

As the girl was known to have already suffered abuse, people in the vicinity immediately offered her support. She went with local people to the police and lodged a report the same day. The police opened a case for causing grievous hurt, which was lodged in court. However, the prosecutor changed the charge from grievous hurt, which has a punishment of up to seven years, to simple hurt, which has a maximum of one year. And, instead of hearing the case fairly the judge together with the prosecutor and defence attorney has instead undermined the judicial process and has pressured the complainant to make a financial settlement with her abuser.

On August 13 when the complainant’s case was opened in court, to the surprise of local people the judge refused permission to the complainant to have a private attorney represent her in court alongside the prosecutor. Instead, the judge allowed the defence lawyer to dominate proceedings, and for two hours ridicule the defendant and ask her demeaning and irrelevant questions, such as that, “Can you read? Can you recite ABC?”, and “Are you going to ask for tens of millions to settle?” and, “Who put you up to this?” The lawyer also cut her off when she tried to tell what had happened to her, saying that her allegations were irrelevant, and neither the prosecutor nor judge did anything in response.

In addition to these events in the courtroom, the defendant and her husband have through deception reportedly obtained the record of the initial medical examination of the complainant, and that the girl’s supporters fear that they will destroy or manipulate evidence of the alleged crime.

Persons attending court have said that they are confident that all of the authorities in this case have received bribes and other incentives to side with the assailant. According to a monk who is helping the young girl, Khin Nilar Win has boasted of her contacts up to the level of the regional police chief, and that the regional public prosecutor personally hired the defence lawyer for her. Therefore, prompt action is needed to change these officials and to ensure that the girl can obtain a fair trial and not suffer further abuses at the hands of the judicial authorities.

Additional details of the case are found in the sample letter below.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

As we wrote in our recent appeal on the case of Ma Thin Thin Myat (AHRC-UAC-136-2012), such cases of abuse are by no means isolated. All across Myanmar, children are daily forced into modern forms of slavery: jobs for which they are paid insignificant amounts of money and are constantly subjected to heinous forms of abuse. The employers are often influential people with money and means to manipulate local authorities’ behaviour and prevent any effective investigations of their crimes. Therefore, it is important that examples be set so that other perpetrators of similar forms of abuse be made to understand that they can indeed be held to account for their crimes, in order that the incidence of such crimes be reduced as quickly as possible.

To browse hundreds of other appeals on cases in Burma issued by the AHRC, visit the AHRC Burma homepage: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma

The AHRC Burmese-language blog is updated for Burmese-language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special analysis pieces.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the persons listed below to call for action to be taken to ensure that the complainant in this case gets a fair trial. Please note that for the purposes of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar; violence against women; contemporary forms of slavery, and on the sale of children, and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia calling for interventions into this case.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Judicial officers attempt to prevent abused child worker from obtaining justice

Details of victim: [name and personal details withheld], 14, female

Details of alleged perpetrator of abuse: Daw Khin Nilar Win, alias Daw Ni Ni, resident of Seinpan Ward, Mandalay

Date of incident: 5 July 2012, reported to Police Station No. 7, Mandalay on the same day (FIR No. Pa-381/2012); investigated by Detective U Thaung Han

Details of court case: Sections 294/323 of the Penal Code, for obscenity and causing hurt, Criminal Case No. 966/2012, Maha-aungmyay Township Court, Mandalay, Additional Township Judge (No. 2) Daw Nwei Ni Oo presiding, Law Officer Daw Thin Thazin

I am writing to you because I am gravely concerned at the treatment of a 14-year-old girl who has approached the police and court in Mandalay, Myanmar, to obtain justice fort the abuse that she allegedly suffered at the hands of an employer. Instead of being treated respectfully and in accordance with the law, the judge and prosecutor in the case are apparently conspiring to derail the proceedings. Furthermore, they have allowed the girl to be treated in court in a manner that not only denies her basic dignity as a human being but also further traumatizes her, on top of the abuses that she has already suffered.

According to the information that I have received, on 5 July 2012 Daw Khin Nilar Win physically assaulted the complainant, an underage girl who had recently started working at her house in Mandalay, for failure to perform a menial task. During the assault, Khin Nilar Win allegedly hit the girl with a chair and with high heels. The employer then allegedly said that she would show the girl how to iron smoothly, and applied a hot iron to her leg. She also scrubbed her arm with an iron brush, telling her “this is how to scrub”. As a result of the assault the complainant suffered abrasions to her head and face, her left arm was fractured, and she had burns and bruising.

After the assault, the complainant fled from the house and sought help from people she knew in the neighbourhood. This assault was not the first that the girl had suffered, and as she was known to have already suffered abuse, people in the vicinity immediately offered her support. According to a letter submitted by a monk to the Mandalay High Court, dated 16 August 2012, he himself observed fresh and older scars and bruises all over her body.

She went with local people to the police and lodged a report the same day. The police opened a case for causing grievous hurt, which was lodged in court. However, the prosecutor, Daw Thin Thazin, changed the charge from grievous hurt, which has a punishment of up to seven years, to simple hurt, which has a maximum of one year. And, instead of hearing the case fairly the judge together with the prosecutor and defence attorney has instead undermined the judicial process and has pressured the complainant to make a financial settlement with her abuser.

On August 13 when the complainant’s case was opened in court, to the surprise of local people the judge refused permission to the complainant to have a private attorney represent her in court alongside the prosecutor. Instead, the judge allowed the defence lawyer to dominate proceedings, and for two hours ridicule the defendant and ask her demeaning and irrelevant questions, such as that, “Can you read? Can you recite ABC?”, and “Are you going to ask for tens of millions to settle?” and, “Who put you up to this?” The lawyer also cut her off when she tried to tell what had happened to her, saying that her allegations were irrelevant, and neither the prosecutor nor judge did anything in response.

In addition to these events in the courtroom, I am told that the defendant and her husband have through deception obtained the record of the initial medical examination of the complainant, and that the girl’s supporters fear that they will destroy or manipulate evidence of the alleged crime.

From the above information, I am forced to conclude that due to bribery or influence of the defendant, the professionals in the courtroom process are colluding to force the case out of court through a settlement, or to reach a verdict, if it is necessary to reach one, that will favour the defendant. Indeed, persons attending court have claimed that Khin Nilar Win has boasted of her contacts up to the level of the regional police chief, and that the regional public prosecutor, U Ye Aung Myint, personally hired the defence lawyer for her.

I am aware that in recent times the Government of Myanmar has spoken out repeatedly on the matter of judicial malfeasance and corruption, and that a number of parliamentary debates have acknowledged the extent of corruption in the judicial system and parliamentarians have urged that action be taken to address this problem. I am also aware that a number of committees are involved in the receipt and investigation of complaints at the parliamentary level, in parallel with agencies in other part of the state apparatus.

Accordingly, I urge that this case be subject to prompt investigation and action. Sufficient doubt has been cast on the credibility of the judge and prosecutor in this case that both of them ought to be changed immediately, since the right of the complainant to a fair trial is the foremost priority and the matter of highest urgency. The judicial personnel involved should also be subject to inquiries to determine if in fact they have accepted bribes or otherwise been influenced to undermine the outcome in this case, and if their superiors also are complicit. In the event of findings to this effect, I urge prompt and effective action against these persons to ensure that they are no longer able to cause miscarriages of justice of the sort manifest in this case.

Lastly I also call on the concerned authorities to ensure that the young girl in this case obtain full necessary medical treatment, both physical and mental, to ensure her long-term recovery from the abuses that she has suffered at the hands of this employer.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. U Hla Min
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
President Office
Office No.18
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

3. U Tun Tun Oo
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

4. Dr. Tun Shin
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. U Kyaw Kyaw Htun
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

6.Thura U Aung Ko
Chairman
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and legislative Committee
Pythu Hluttaw Office
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR.

7.U Aung Nyain
Chairman
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and Legislative Committee
Committee for Public complain and appeals
Office of Amyotha Hluttaw
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

8. U Win Mra
Chairman
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hlaing Township
Yangon
MYANMAR
Tel: +95-1-659668
Fax: +95-1-659668

9. Ko Ko Hlaing
Chief Political Advisor
Office of the President
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel-+951532501ext-605
Fax-+951 532500
Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Tags: , ,

This post is in: Press Release

Related Posts
Reform of the Police and the Judiciary is a Matter of Urgency
BURMA/MYANMAR: Immediate Need for Fair Trial and Remedies for Free Speech
Burma Parliament Must Reject Dangerous Religious Conversion Law
Buma/Myanmar: Draft Anti-religious Conversion Law Released
BURMA/MYANMAR: No Rule of Law via Special Branch, Militarised Police