Myanmar revokes anti-dissident law: state media

YANGON - Myanmar has repealed a law that was used to jail critics of the former junta, state media said Wednesday, as the fast-changing nation works to overhaul a legal system once used to crush dissidents.

Reformist President Thein Sein on Tuesday revoked legislation which banned protests against the "peaceful handover of power", the Burmese-language Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported.

The law, which came into force in 1996, also banned protests against "the successful holding of the national convention" - the body which drafted Myanmar's controversial constitution in 2007 after 14 years of secretive talks.

The president's order was set to be approved by parliament on Wednesday.

Democracy activists welcomed the move but said there was still much draconian legislation on the books that should be scrapped as the country emerges from decades of military rule.

"Some activists were prosecuted under this law in the past because they were against holding the national convention," lawyer Aung Thein, who has represented leading dissidents, told AFP, adding that the maximum penalty was around 15 years.

But he said the law became redundant after the constitution came into effect in 2008.

He called for Myanmar to go further and revoke the 1950 emergency act and a law protecting the state from "destructive elements" - legisation that was used to jail dissidents, including democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thein Sein, a former general who was prime minister at the time of the last national convention, has implemented wide-ranging reforms since coming to power at the end of direct military rule in 2011.

The changes, which have included the election of Suu Kyi to parliament and the release of hundreds of political prisoners, have earned the country plaudits and the easing of most Western sanctions.

Suu Kyi, who chairs the parliamentary committee on the Rule of Law and Stability, has said legal reform is crucial in Myanmar's democratisation.

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