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Joint Statement: Parliamentary Bill Committee Should Remove Mandatory Guest Registration Provision

August 31st, 2016  •  Author:   52 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations  •  4 minute read

Myanmar enacted the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law in 2012, replacing two previous laws legislated over a century ago. The Law includes provisions that require residents in Myanmar to inform government officials when visitors spend the night in their homes and to report personal data about those visitors. Myanmar authorities have enforced the guest-registration requirement through late-night household inspections, leading many to refer to the longstanding practice as “midnight inspections.”

We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Parliamentary Bill Committee to remove the mandatory guest registration provisions in the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law of Myanmar. These provisions have long infringed upon the human rights of the people of Myanmar.

Under the law, Myanmar residents need permission from the state to host overnight guests, and the authorities have the power to collect nationwide data about who is sleeping where and for how long. The authorities have used the law to conduct warrantless household inspections under the pretense of checking for unregistered overnight guests.

Moreover, we, the undersigned organizations, are concerned that authorities have selectively enforced the guest registration requirement over many years and have used household inspections to monitor, harass, and interfere with the activities of civil society organizations and political activists, among others. We are concerned that mandatory guest registration and nighttime household inspections will be used to target social movements and further violate human rights.

In particular, the guest registration requirement and nighttime household inspections violate the rights to privacy, freedom of movement and residency, and freedom of association. Section 355 of 2008 Constitution of Myanmar states that “[e]very citizen shall have the right to settle and reside in anyplace within the Republic of the Union of Myanmar according to law.” These rights are also protected under international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The UDHR provides that “[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy [or] home” and that “[e]veryone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference.” The UDHR and the ICCPR establish rights to freedom of movement and association. Article 13 of UDHR states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.”

Although Myanmar’s parliament twice amended the Ward of Village Tract Administration Law of 2012, the authorities are now attempting to preserve the mandatory guest registration requirement under the pretense of “national security.” This effort is wrongheaded and harmful to Myanmar.

We, the undersigned organizations, believe that there is no place for mandatory guest registration and midnight inspections in Myanmar. The Ward or Village Tract Administration Law should protect the rights to privacy, freedom of movement, and freedom of association, and Parliament should unreservedly repeal the mandatory guest registration requirements under the law.

Action Committee for Democracy Development
Action Group on Monitoring Communal Tensions
All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC)
Arakan Rivers Network (ARN)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
Burma Partnership (BP)
Burma Women Union (BWU)
Center for Education and Research Development
Children Can Youth Can (CCYC)
Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization (C.A.N-Myanmar)
EON – Mandalay (Election Observers Network – Mandalay)
Equality Myanmar
Farmer Right and Development Organization
Farmer Union (Magway)
Farmers and Landworkers Union (Myanmar)
Fortify Rights
Gender Equality Network
Green Network Sustainable Environment Group
Hands of Unity Group
Human Rights Foundation of Monland
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)
Karen River Watch
LAIN Technical Support Group
ME – Community Development Center
Magway EITI Watch Group
Metta-Campaign – Mandalay
Metta-Campaign – Youth
Myanmar Green Network
Myanmar Human Rights Working Group
Myit Thar Farmer Union
New Myanmar Foundation (NMF)
Organic Argo and Farmer Affair Development Group
Our Future Initiative (OFI)
Paung Ku (PK)
People for People (Rakhine)
Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT)
Rainbow Organization
Shan Youth Yangon
Shwechinthae Social Service Group (Shwebo)
Social Alliance
Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU)
The Seagull: Human Rights Peace & Development
Triangle Women’s Support Group
Thwe Chin Ayarwady Network
Upper Chindwin Youth Network
Women League of Burma (WLB)
Women Peace Network Arakan (WPNA)
Youth Pacemaker Organization
Yway Lat Yar Institute