Burmese Human Rights Lawyers Inspired in Serbia

Human rights lawyers in Burma do not waste any time when trying to make use of emerging opportunities as their country is opening up. But rule of law is weak, civil society initiatives are nascent and threats against lawyers commonplace.

To support them, Civil Rights Defenders has organised a two-week study tour to Serbia for ten activist lawyers, to meet with our partner organisations that work in the field of legal aid.

The Serbian peers show dedication when sharing their experiences from the past decade of transition and pass on ideas about how legal initiatives can push human rights protection.

And the exposure immediately turn into ideas for Burma:

“We are now discussing whether we could use model laws as a tool to promote legal reform”, said Thein Than Oo, after meeting with Centre for Advanced Studies, the Serbian NGO that drafted the anti-discrimination law, which Serbia adopted in 2009. Thein Than Oo spent 14 years in prison for his activism, and had his lawyer’s licence returned to him less than a year ago.

“In Burma we don’t have organisations such as these yet”, said Mandalay lawyer Ywet Nu Aung. “So we get many great new ideas from meeting them”.