Posted in Legislative Analysis, Political Institutions on Aug 20, 2019

On 13th August 2019, the Use of the Red Cross Emblem Bill was introduced to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw by government (likely the Ministry of Health & Sports).

Current status (22/08/2019): Pending decision on date for discussion from Joint Bill Committee


Bill in brief

This Bill aims to establish appropriate use and naming for the red cross, the red crescent and the red crystal; to avoid misuse, and to bring Myanmar in line with international regulations.

Summary of main provisions

  • The ‘negotiation team’ will be formed by the Union Government which can:
    • solve disputes relating to the use of emblems, and their names
    • raise public awareness of their use
    • form working committees
  • At the time of armed conflicts, the military medical team of the Ministry of Defence and the medical team/personnel/building/vehicle must use a large red cross emblem for protection.
    • The military medical team must visibly display the emblem at times of peace and conflict, and if permitted by the Ministry of Defence to assist the military medical team, medical personnel, team, buildings and vehicles must use the emblem as well.
    • The Ministry of Health and Sports must allow civilian medical personnel, hospitals, buildings and vehicles to use the emblem for protection when helping the injured and the ill during armed conflict, and refugees at sea. Such personnel must wear the armband and carry an identity card of the emblem.
    • The Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) must allow its medical personnel, teams and vehicles to support the military medical team to use the emblem at times of conflict.
  • The emblem can also be used for showing connection with the red cross movement during peacetime.
    • Foreign national red cross associations (i.e. foreign equivalents to the Myanmar Red Cross Society) delivering humanitarian aid at national borders, can use the emblem with the consent of the MRCS, as can international and foreign red crescent and crystal associations.
  • The Bill includes forbidding inappropriate use carries penalties of imprisonment of a maximum of 20 years. False use of emblems must be retaken from the market within one year.

Possible Impacts

A brief review suggests this Bill could have the following impacts of interest to civil society groups:

Positive Negative
· Clarity on this important issue may well save lives in the field during armed conflict · Unclear why government passing one law for one particular article of the Geneva Conventions, and not drafting a law to commit to all article of the Conventions
· Myanmar is already a signatory of the Geneva Conventions. The first Geneva Convention contains provisions for the use of the red cross symbol.

Other relevant legislation

• The Myanmar Red Cross Society Law 2015 • Geneva Conventions (includes use of red cross emblems and signed by Myanmar in 1994)

Links

Bill Text

Myanmar Red Cross Society: https://www.redcross.org.mm/my_MM/

ICRC Myanmar: https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/asia-pacific/myanmar

Geneva conventions on use of Red Cross, Crescent, Crystal: https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/protecting-people-in-armed-conflict/geneva-conventions

Contact

Hla Myo Kyaw, The Ananda, hlamyokyaw@theananda.org