Briefing 142

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概述

于2011年成立的缅甸新议会——联邦议会——是建立在2010年选举基础上的,新议会比人们预想的更加具有活力和影响力。议会上下两院通过制定和修订对过时的法典进行改革所需的法令,在推动国家转型进程中扮演着关键角色,并真正对行政权力起到了制约作用。

然而,议会正在通过的一些法案引起了人们的担忧,担心立法机关和行政机关可能还不打算放弃对媒体、公民社会组织以及公民集会权的独裁控制。更多人则是对占有25%议会席位的军事集团在议会中的地位及其对议会的影响力提出了质疑。个人及机构能力受到的严重制约以及不明晰的立法程序,都妨碍了议会进行有力而有效的立法。

几部颇具争议的法律正在制定当中。议会正在研究对社会组织和国际非政府组织(NGO)的注册和运作做出相应规定的组织法法案。地方组织和国际专家认为法案初稿中的限制过多,与国际上在这方面的最佳实践相去甚远。同时,立法机构一直以来都愿意向这些地方组织征求意见,并听取专家的建议。该法案最新的版本已经不再有那么严格的限制性条款,也解决了公民社会所关心的绝大部分问题。

2011年颁布的和平集会法饱受诟病,原因是该法律规定,对未经批准而进行示威游行的人员处以刑事处罚。大量活动家因此被起诉,数十名被刑拘,引起人们严重质疑缅甸所谓的新自由究竟意义何在。资深的立法人员承认,这类刑拘与吴登盛总统宣称的到今年年底为止不再会出现任何政治犯的说法不符。议会已经起草了一份提案,拟对这些有问题的条款进行修订。

有关新的媒体法案的讨论正在进行中,新法令将取代严苛的旧法令。与别的新法案一样,原有法案中一些有问题的条款也被写入了新法案的草案中,包括政府发放和撤消出版许可证的权力,以及对出版内容措辞宽泛的限制性规定。立法机构向包括新闻理事会(press council)在内的媒体代表征求过意见,但是到目前为止,媒体代表的关切在多大程度上会被纳入考虑还不得而知。在大部分记者还未很好地理解新闻的职业和道德标准的情况下放开对媒体的管制,对于这点政府已经表示出一定程度的不安。

目前呈现在眼前的是这样一幅景象:立法过程虽有瑕疵,但总体而言立法机关愿意向利益相关者征求意见,也会听取专家的建议。缅甸一些地区的当局担心国家对外开放的步子迈得过大、过快,但是他们在其他方面的一些考虑如公众对协商的需求以及对达到国际标准的期望,虽然没有完全消除却也缓解了这种担心。媒体法的立法过程以及是否会按已经宣布的修订案对和平集会法进行修订,都将会成为下一个试金石,看究竟是旧观念当道,还是新的开放态度占据主导权。

宪法规定为军方保留25%的议员席位,这一点让很多人深感忧虑。虽然这种预留议员职位的做法不符合基本的民主准则,但是军事集团总体而言采取了支持改革进程的立场。军事集团与其他一些议员之间的关系一度紧张,因为该集团有时会投票支持政府和总统,而反对占多数席位的、由旧军事政权建立的联邦巩固与发展党(Union Solidarity and Development Party, 简称USDP)。

从更广泛的意义上来说,现任议会是缅甸50年来第一个独立议会,其立法过程会受到立法者本身经验的缺乏以及机制缺陷的制约。立法者对民主实践几乎毫无经验,也鲜有来自机构的支持。议员们既没有办公室或办公人员的协助,也没有政策和研究机构的帮助,再加上委员会内部也缺少可以对立法事项进行研究和分析的专家,因此要进行有效而有力的立法是不可能的。考虑到这种情况,再加上排得满满的立法日程表,目前议会所取得的进展令人印象深刻。然而,随着国家转型进程向前推进,要达到公众对议会这个政府关键部门的期望值,就需要对议会进行更多的投入。

仰光/布鲁塞尔 2013年12月13日

I. Overview

Myanmar’s new legislature, the Union Assembly formed in 2011 on the basis of elections the previous year, has turned out to be far more vibrant and influential than expected. Both its lower and upper houses have a key role in driving the transition process through the enactment and amendment of legislation needed to reform the outdated legal code and are acting as a real check on the power of the executive.

Yet, some bills moving through the legislature have raised concerns that the authorities, both legislative and executive, may not be ready to give up authoritarian controls on the media, on civil society organisations and on the right to demonstrate. More broadly, the role of the 25 per cent military bloc and its impact on the legislature have been questioned. Serious individual and institutional capacity constraints and unclear procedures serve as a brake on effective, efficient lawmaking.

Several controversial pieces of legislation are being developed. The association bill under consideration would provide a framework for the registration and operation of social organisations and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Initial drafts were considered by local organisations and international experts to be highly restrictive and far short of global best practice. At the same time, there has been legislative willingness to consult with those local groups and listen to expert advice. The latest version is far less restrictive and addresses the majority of civil society concerns.

The law on peaceful assembly promulgated in 2011 has been widely criticised for imposing criminal penalties on those who demonstrate without permission. Scores of activists have been charged and dozens imprisoned under it, raising serious questions about the true extent of Myanmar’s new freedoms. Senior lawmakers have acknowledged that such imprisonment is inconsistent with the president’s pledge that there will be no more political prisoners by the end of the year. A proposal to amend the problematic provisions has been drawn up.

New media legislation to replace the old draconian restrictions is being debated. Again, some problematic provisions have been carried over into the draft bills, including the power to issue and revoke publishing licences and broadly-worded restrictions on content. There has been consultation with media representatives, including the press council, but so far it is not clear to what extent their concerns will be taken into account. The government has expressed some unease about having an unregulated media when many journalists still do not well understand professional and ethical standards.

What emerges is a picture of a lawmaking process with flaws but in general willing to consult with stakeholders and make use of expert inputs. Authoritarian reflexes and concerns in some quarters about opening up too far, too fast are now tempered, though not erased, by other considerations, such as public demands for consultation and a desire to meet international standards. The shape of media legislation and whether the announced amendments are made to the peaceful assembly law will be the next concrete tests of whether it is the old reflexes that hold sway or the new openness.

The 25 per cent of seats reserved for the military under the constitution has been a source of concern to many. While the reservation is not consistent with fundamental democratic principles, the military bloc has generally taken positions supportive of the reform process. There have been some tensions with other lawmakers, as the bloc has sometimes voted in support of the executive and the president and against the majority Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), established by the old military regime.

More broadly, lawmaking is constrained by representatives’ lack of experience and institutional weaknesses in what is the first independent legislature in Myanmar for 50 years. Lawmakers have little knowledge of democratic practice, and there is very little institutional support. Without offices or staff, with no policy and research help, and with committees lacking internal experts to report on and analyse the issues, efficient, effective lawmaking is impossible. Under such circumstances, and with a crowded legislative agenda, it is impressive how much has been achieved. But as the transition proceeds, far greater investments are needed if this critical branch of government is to meet public expectations.

Yangon/Brussels, 13 December 2013

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