On Saturday, the junta of Myanmar sentenced 19 people to death by a military court for robbery and murder, with 17 of the people tried in absentia. Norway calls the death sentences “unacceptable and a deeply worrying development”, AFP reports.
The death sentence is the first known use of the death penalty in Myanmar since the military seized power on 1 February and the country has not carried out an execution in over 30 years.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen expressed her concerns via Twitter where she stated, “Norway strongly urges Myanmar not to carry out the executions, to stop the violence and allow the UN Special Envoy to visit.”
According to officials from the United Nations, the special envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, is currently in Thailand hoping to enter Myanmar for face-to-face meetings with the generals to negotiate a path out of the crisis. Myanmar’s junta has so far refused her entry.
The 19 people were all arrested in Yangon’s North Okkalapa township which is one of six areas in the commercial hub that is currently under martial law. That means that anybody arrested there is tried by a military tribunal.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division for Human Rights Watch said to APF that the death sentences “indicate the military is prepared to go back to a time when Myanmar was executing people”. He added that trying cases in a military court means there can be no appeals, and there are “no guarantees of a free and fair trial in any way, shape or form”.