“Overall, court hearings were completed for 96pc of cases. But there are more cases year after year, and it can’t be denied that more are remaining open in court,” she said at a news conference reviewing the second year of the government held at the Ministry of Information on May 11.
In 2017, of the 442,000 cases filed nationwide, 424,236 were resolved and more than 18,000 remain open.
In comparison, of the 417,000 cases filed in 2016, nearly 408,000 cases were resolved and almost 10,000 were still open.
Ranking the states and regions in serious criminal cases for 2017, Ayeyarwady had the most rape cases with 334, Yangon was second with 258, and Bago was third with 236. Kayah had the least with only eight cases.
Regarding murder, Mandalay had the most with 184 cases, Ayeyarwady followed with 146 and Yangon and Bago were third with 133 cases each.
Narcotics cases were most common in Shan State, which had 2063, Kachin was next with 1730 and Sagaing was third with 149.
In human trafficking, Shan, Yangon and Kachin were first, second and third with 48, 38 and 28 cases respectively. No human trafficking cases were opened in Chin.
Since 2015, reforms have been conducted in the judiciary, and pilot courts were opened in Taungoo in Bago, Hlaing Tharyar in Yangon, and Hpa-an in Kayin to reduce delays and to improve court performance with modernised case management, which increased the number of cases treated and public satisfaction, she said.
“According to a survey on pilot courts, public satisfaction for all court services increased from 61.5pc to 68pc for pilot courts in 2017,” she added. In 2016, pilot courts were set up in Monywa in Sagaing, Mawlamyine in Mon, Chan Aye Tharzan in Mandalay, Pathein in Ayeyarwady, and Magwe township.
The court programme will be extended nationwide this year, she added.
Although some cases remain open due to staff and resource shortages, it is difficult to reach 100pc.
The Union Legal Aid Board formed in Nay Pyi Taw on May 11 will operate on a budget managed by the Supreme Court but will remain a separate body, said U Ko Ko Naing, director general of the Union Supreme Court.
“Their duty is to help those who can’t afford legal assistance. They will work independently of us,” he said.
However, the British Justice Base non-governmental organisation released a report last October on the major shortcomings of the judiciary, which found that in 135 out of 155 cases monitored, defendants did not receive a proper defence in time.
The report further deplored corruption among judicial officials, unnecessary delays in judicial procedures or careless handling of cases by judges. The report took notice of a judge’s handling of three separate hearings at once, questioning the rational of prioritising quantity over quality.