January 31, 2017
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) strongly condemns the killing of prominent Muslim lawyer U Ko Ni in Myanmar on Sunday 29 January 2017, and has called on the country’s authorities to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the slaying of long-time legal adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD).
IBAHRI Co-Chair Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell said: ‘The killing of U Ko Ni is not only a tragic loss for Myanmar, but also a very dark day for its legal profession and the rule of law. The IBAHRI wholeheartedly denounces what appears to be a calculated act of murder. Myanmar’s authorities must ensure that the rule of law prevails by carrying out an investigation into his killing and holding a fair and public trial in an independent court, which guarantees that whoever is responsible for this crime is brought to justice. Attacks against the legal profession seriously jeopardise the rule of law and the right of access to justice for all in the country. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the honourable U Ko Ni.’
U Ko Ni was shot at close range in the head by a gunman as he was preparing to leave Yangon International Airport, having just returned from a government-organised visit to Indonesia. A taxi driver who tried to apprehend the gunman as he attempted to flee the scene was also shot, and later died in hospital. A number of other taxi drivers were successful in stopping and detaining the gunman until the police arrived.
IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis commented: ‘The premature death of U Ko Ni has deprived Myanmar of a citizen who cared deeply about, and was committed to, advancing the rule of law and progressing human rights in his country. He was a founding senior member of the Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar (ILAM), which the IBA supported in its establishment, and was instrumental in working towards bringing together different factions for a successful outcome. The ILAM will stand partly as his legacy as to what can be done when cooperation is paramount in an endeavour.’
U Ko Ni was known in Myanmar particularly for supporting constitutional reform and promoting religious harmony. He was outspoken in his criticism of the NLD for not fielding any Muslim candidates in the 2015 elections.