News Release

NACDL Statement of Support for Myanmar Attorneys and the Rule of Law

Washington, DC (March 16, 2021) – Attorneys in Myanmar are reported to be under attack. Yesterday, the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) Human Rights Committee issued a statement supporting the lawyers and legal system in Myanmar. Pointing to Myanmar lawyers protesting against the February 1, 2021, military coup d’├ętat, the ECBA advises that: “Many lawyers are offering support to other protestors, despite knowing that this may put their careers at risk.” And it “note[s] with concern that, according to reports, new amendments to the Penal Code 1860 (sec. 124A) criminalize any anti-government protest with a possible sanction of imprisonment of 20 years. There are also reports of the arrest of Myanmar lawyers and the fact that basic rights have been removed.” Attacks and threats against defenders in Myanmar are also the subject of a Statement of Solidarity in Support of Lawyers in Myanmar, issued by the Presidents of the Law Societies of Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Christopher W. Adams issued the following statement:

“NACDL stands with and supports the criminal defense bar, and indeed all threatened Myanmar lawyers and defenders of the rule of law, in the face of recent military actions in Myanmar. Respect for basic human and civil rights require that no one ever be detained or punished for peaceful protest, and that no lawyer ever be detained or punished for representing individuals accused of criminal violations of the law, anywhere.

“The day may come when those individuals behind the recent coup d’├ętat in Myanmar, or otherwise attacking the defense function, will be forced to face prosecution in Myanmar, at an international tribunal, or elsewhere. Should that happen, NACDL will remain steadfast in its support for the principle that every person accused of criminal violations of the law are entitled to a defense attorney to represent them without fear of reprisal.”

NACDL also joins the ECBA in the call set forth in its statement:

“The ECBA asks that all necessary measures are undertaken to guarantee that all lawyers in Myanmar are able to carry out their professional duties without fear of reprisal, intimidation or harassment, in order to preserve the independence and integrity of the administration of justice and the rule of law….

“We urge the military and government offices of Myanmar to ensure that members of the legal profession are not unfairly detained or otherwise targeted, that vital access to justice is not curtailed, and public confidence in the justice system is not undermined.”

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Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.