Posted in Legislative Research on Jul 30, 2020

This bill was posted on the Amyotha Hluttaw website on 15.07.2020 and described in state-run newspapers Myanmar Alin and The Mirror on 18th of July, requesting input from the public.

Current Status (30.07.2020) – Asking the name list of MPs who want to discuss

(1) Backgrounder

The Defence Services Act, 1959 originally derived from The British Army Act and The Indian Army Act, is the result of combining The Myanmar Army Act, The Myanmar Naval (Discipline) Act, 1947 and The Myanmar Air Force (Discipline) Act, 1947.

The Act has been amended five times previously– in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1989 and 2010. The current amendment bill was drafted with reference to the Singapore Armed Forces Act, 1972 and The Indian Army Act, 1950. The reason given for proposing the amendment was to prevent impunity from punishment of soldiers who have committed an offence, and to maintain army discipline.

The period of limitation for trial is included in army laws around the world, due to their distinct nature. Examples are Royal Brunei Armed Forces Act 1984 (Art 119), Malaysian Armed Forces Act 1972 (Art 144), Singapore Armed Forces Act 1972 (Art 111 (1)), American Armed Forces Law 1956 (Art 43), The Pakistan Army Act 1952 (Art 91) and The Indian Army Act 1950 (Art 122 (1)).

Although the current Act stipulated the period of limitation for trial, soldiers can escape justice since no trial can commence after the expiration of three years from the date of the offence. Section 72 of the 1959 Act does not prevent impunity because the civilian court only has jurisdiction over murder and homicide not amounting to murder and rape which does not take place while on active service, at any place outside the country or at the frontier post specified by the Commander-in-chief by notification.

(2) Bill Summary

The amendment is under the sub-title “Period of limitation for trial” in the “Chapter X. Courts-martial”, and is as follows:

Those subject to this Act should not be prosecuted three years after committing an offence. That three years will be counted:

(1) on the date of the offence or

(2) the earliest time when the offence is known or

(3) the earliest time when the person who committed the offence is known.


Bill Text

Royal Brunei Armed Forces Act, 1984

Malaysian Armed Forces Act, 1972

Singapore Armed Forces Act, 1972

American Armed Forces Law, 1956

The Pakistan Army Act, 1952

The Indian Army Act, 1950


Moe Aung, The Ananda,