Improvements to Myanmar’s judicial system must be part of its reform process, a senior member of the International Commission of Jurists said in Yangon on December 3.

“Myanmar should not be content with state building only; the country will not improve and become better unless the judicial system is improved,” said the Asia-Pacific regional director of the ICJ, Mr Sam Zarifi, who is based in Bangkok.

Mr Zarifi urged the government to hold meetings with experienced, senior lawyers to hear their suggestions for improving the judicial system.

“The judicial system should be changed and reformed,” he said, after releasing an ICJ report on Myanmar’s judicial system at a function at the Chatrium Hotel attended by about 60 Myanmar lawyers.

Mr Zarifi, who authored the report, added that the justice delivery system should be independent and free from interference by the executive.

“Myanmar should improve its justice delivery system now,” he said.

Mr Zarifi also called for the establishment of an independent Bar Council to ensure that lawyers’ interests were properly protected.

Mr Zarifi said the Myanmar Bar Council could not protect lawyers and had also failed to improve the role of lawyers in bringing fair and effective justice.

He condemned corruption and bribery in the legal system, describing it as a “crucial issue” for the country.

The ICJ report urges that action be taken against allegations of bribery and corruption in the legal system to help ensure that improvements to the justice delivery system are effective.

The report also says that the quality of legal education in Myanmar will improve if the Education Ministry and legal institutions work together on the curriculum development, teaching and assessment methods in the country’s law schools.