Myanmar parliament votes down death penalty for child rapists

A woman attends a protest demanding the death penalty for rapists in Yangon on Feb. 21, 2018. Photo: Jacob Goldberg
A woman attends a protest demanding the death penalty for rapists in Yangon on Feb. 21, 2018. Photo: Jacob Goldberg

Myanmar’s parliament voted down a proposal to give the death penalty to convicted child rapists, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported today. The vote follows months of protests by local rights groups demanding that parliament allow child rapists to be executed.

“[Myanmar has] unconditionally accepted the fact that no crime should have the death penalty, as agreed by many member countries of the UN,” said Botataung Township MP Daw Myint Myint Soe during yesterday’s parliament session. “Furthermore, there is no evidence to show that the death penalty deters or reduces crimes.”

She added: “The death penalty is contrary to the democratic system, the establishment of peace, and the rule of law, which our country is beginning to undertake.”

READ: Meet the women who want at least a few rapists to be executed

Several MPs and government officials also weighed in on the proposal, which was introduced by Rathedaung Township MP Daw Khin Saw Wai. Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Soe Aung said during the discussion: “There is a death penalty in law in Myanmar, but it is no longer imposed.”

While Myanmar’s death penalty for some severe crimes, including murder and treason, is still on the books, it is considered a de facto abolitionist country because it has not meted out the penalty since the 1980s.

The motion was defeated in a vote of 141 to 227, with four abstentions. Government officials told Daw Khin Saw Wai that the prevention of child rape would instead be ensured by two bills – one for a special law on children’s rights and one for a law on preventing violence against women – which the government is currently in the process of drafting.

Incidentally, this parliamentary discussion took place on the same day as Thailand’s first execution in nine years. On Monday, Thailand’s Department of Corrections executed a 26-year-old man by lethal injection. He had been convicted of murdering a high school boy during a robbery in 2012.

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