Myanmar National Inaugural Mock Trial Event a Success

Feb 9, 2015

The final round of the mock trail at Dagon University Photo: Shobhna Decloitre/UNDP

[Yangon- February 9] More than 40 law students from across Myanmar had a taste of participating in court cases over the weekend.

During Myanmar’s first ever national mock trial event organised for students enrolled at the country’s 18 law departments, first and second year Bachelor of Law students had a chance to become defense or prosecution lawyers, give testimony as a witness, find themselves in the shoes of the accused or become court officials.

The students, organised in mixed university groups, played different roles on a rotational basis. A total of six court rounds were held on the first day, with the final round on February 8.

“I was excited before the final round of the trial started. Once, it started, I got into my role of the defense advocate.

Even if in real life, I am friends with the prosecution team, on the mock trial court room floor we were rivals,” said Dagon University’s Khin Nyein Wai.

Mawlamyin University’s Aung Hein played the role of a prosecutor in the mock trial’s final round. During the first day of the mock trial event he was a witness.

“Both experiences were very useful for me to lo learn more about real court room situations.”

Myo Thiri Kyaw from Sittwe University was prosecution witness during the final round. On the previous day she had the role of a defense lawyer.

“I was more worried as a witness than as a lawyer. I realized that if I did not answer the questions well then I could weaken the case.”

The 2-day Inaugural National Myanmar Clinical Legal Education Mock Trial Event was organised at the Dagon University in Yangon. The judges at the event were a mix of local and international legal professionals, including officials from the Union Attorney General’s Office.

The mock trial is a practical learning experience where students simulate a fictitious court trial of a minor civil dispute or criminal offence. Mock trial allows students to develop legal, analytical and advocacy skills, increasing familiarity with court process, fair trial standards, and legal ethics.

The mock trial event is part of a nationwide Clinical Legal Education (CLE) Rule of Law/ Access to Justice, programme that UNDP supports in partnership with Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEA CLE). The nationwide CLE programme was developed in consultation with Myanmar’s Ministry of Education and provides practical guidance for all 18 university law departments across Myanmar to develop and implement accredited CLE programmes and apply CLE student-centered, reflective practice, and interactive teaching methods. The programme is also forging links between legal education and justice institutions.

Christina Beninger, Rule of Law Officer for UNDP, said at the event, “The mock trial event, and the Clinical Legal Education program, exemplify UNDP’s commitment to supporting justice actors – especially the law students who are the judges and lawyers of tomorrow - in building knowledge and skills to promote the rule of law”.

“The mock trial event was a small idea two years ago. I am so proud that such a small idea has come such a long way. This is just the beginning, we hope to do such events again and again,” said BABSEA CLE’s Helen Yandell.
She encouraged participating students to share their knowledge with other students from their law departments who could not participate in the mock trial event.

The following universities participated: Dagon University, Dawei University, East Yangon University, Magway University, Mandalay University, Mandalay University of Distance Education, Maylamyine University, Monywa University, Myitkyina University, Pathein University, Pinlong University, Pyay University, Sittwe University, Taunggyi University, Taungoo University, Yadanabon University, Yangon University and Yangon University of Distance Education.

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