Leveraging democracy through open data
Empowering citizens and civil society with data and insights to engage in democracy
One of the reasons discrimination persists is because the state – the institution whose responsibility it is to protect equality and human rights for all people are not able to understand what it feels like to be marginalised and discriminated against. Given all political and economic institutions in Myanmar are overwhelmingly led by older Bamar men it is perhaps unsurprising that, for example, the Hluttaw regularly brings forward legislation on economic matters that will help the government’s friends in business; but when asked to pass a law to protect women from domestic violence it takes over 8 years, and still has not been passed.
Public participation in the drafting of policies and laws is extremely limited. When consultation does take place, carefully selected organisations or businesses are invited to give views – others are barred. Some noted a bias in favour of international technical experts to the detriment of local knowledge and expertise. There are no consistently applied open public consultation standards.
Amendments to the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law (VFV Land Law) and the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Law (LAARL) are considered particular embarrassments, as they are poorly conceived and do little to protect people’s rights to their land, especially landholdings under customary systems of tenure. Ambiguities in new legislation allows decision makers to take arbitrary decisions about who owns land, evicting farmers whose families have worked plots for generations.