In Myanmar, the British introduced the Legal system modified their Common Law Legal System at the end of the First Anglo-Myanmar war in 1826 and appointed a Government Advocate General, Government Advocates and Public Prosecutors to conduct criminal and civil cases on behalf of the Government.
When Myanmar regained her independence in 1948, the Office of the Attorney General was established under the Constitution of the Union of Burma, 1947 and the Attorney General of the Union Act, 1948. The Attorney General’s Office still existed when the Revolutionary Council took over responsibilities of the State in 1962. Until then, the functions and duties of the Attorney General’s Office were appearing for and conducting criminal and civil cases on behalf of the Government and tendering legal advice to the Government.
When the Attorney General’s Office was reformed after abolishing the administrative mechanism in 1972, it was vested responsibilities for prosecution, tendering legal advice, drafting bill and legal translation. Then, the Council of People’s Attorney was formed by adopting the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma in 1974. The Central Law Office, State and Division Law Offices and Township Law Offices were formed according to the Council of People’s Attorney Law, 1974.
When the State Law and Order Restoration Council took over responsibilities of the State in 1988, it promulgated the Attorney General Law,1988 and formed the Attorney General’s Office, State and Division Law Offices, District Law Offices and Township Law Offices. Moreover, the Branch Office of the Attorney General (Mandalay), two branches of State Law Offices and one branch of Division Law Offices were formed.
The Attorney General Law, 2001 was a law that was based on historical experience and legal practice to be familiar with situation. It was amended once in 2003. The functions were carried out by appointing the Attorney General and three Deputy Attorney Generals according to the Attorney General Law, 2001.
The Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008) was adopted through a nation-wide referendum on 29th May, 2008. On 28th October,2010, the Attorney General of the Union Law was promulgated in accordance with section 443 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
Under this Law, the Attorney General of the Union and a Deputy Attorney General were appointed by the President. The Attorney General of the Union is a member of the Union Government and shall be responsible to the President.
The State Administration Council maintained the State responsibilities from Ist February, 2021 by declaring State Emergency in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and has adopted the Five-Point Road Map and Nine objectives. The State Administration Council reformed the Attorney General’s Office as the Ministry of Legal Affairs by Order No.176/2021, and appointed and assigned duties to the Attorney General of the Union Dr. Thida Oo as the Union Minister and the Attorney General of the Union and Deputy Attorney General U San Lwin as the Deputy Minister and Deputy Attorney General by Order No. 178/2021 on 30th August,2021. The functions of the Attorney General of the Union will be carried out in accordance with the Attorney General of the Union Law. At present, the Ministry of Legal Affairs is preparing to form Rule of Law and Justice Sector Coordination Division, e-Government Division, Human Resource Management Division, Monitoring and Evaluating Division, International Relation Division, Legal Research Division, Public Complaint Scrutiny Division to perform specific functions.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs is implementing the functions of four Departments such as Legislative Draft Vetting Department, Legal Advice Department, Prosecution Department and Administration Department. The Ministry published the Code of Ethics for Law Officers and Fair Trial Standards, and implemented the Strategic Plan 2020-2024: “Providing Legal Service for Justice”.
The Attorney General of the Union is empowered to translate laws under the Attorney General of the Union Law. Moreover, the Attorney General of the Union tenders legal advice to the Union Level Government Departments and Government Organizations as to whether or not it should be a party to international conventions and regional agreements and on matters in relation to bilateral or multilateral treaties, memorandum of understanding, memorandum of agreement, local and foreign investment instruments and other instruments. The Attorney General of the Union appears on behalf of the Government in criminal cases and civil cases in which the Government involves as the plaintiff or defendant.
Under section 378(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Attorney General of the Union appears in applications to issue writ to the Supreme Court of the Union in relation to fundamental rights and duties of the citizens.
Under section 266 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the President appoints the person nominated by the Prime Minister of Region or State as the Region or State Advocate General with the approval of the relevant Hluttaw to obtain legal advices and assign legal responsibilities.
Moreover, the Ministry of Legal Affairs intends to perform functions such as publishing law books yearly in both Myanmar and English in order to conduct legal studies and researches by law officers from various levels of Law Offices, compiling law journal, English-Myanmar law dictionary and other legal researches, providing service by launching Myanmar Law Information System(MLIS) in order to access updated laws, rules, procedures, orders and directives.
The motto of the Ministry of Legal Affairs is “The Legal Profession is A Noble
Profession” and the mission of the Ministry of Legal Affairs are as follows:
-to protect legal rights;
-to be better functions of the Ministry of Legal Affairs;
-to participate in judicial system for promoting public trust;
-to participate in justice sector reform.