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Myanmar launches first ever nation-wide crime prevention strategy

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 15 May 2019
- Representatives from across Myanmar's security sector and relevant ministries gathered in the capital to launch Myanmar's first ever National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS).

Crime and insecurity are serious obstacles to development, which makes it paramount to ensure the safety and security of citizens of Myanmar and enhance their quality of life. Crime poses a threat to the peaceful resolution of differences and the rightful participation of citizens in the country's transition to democracy.

Mr. Troels Vester, Country Manager of UNODC, acknowledged the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Crime Prevention Committee's hard work and perseverance on developing the strategy. "It is great to see the Myanmar Government recognizing the importance of a crime prevention to not only prevent crime and victimization of crime, but also improve civil security, safety, livelihoods that support the process of sustainable development of the country."

The strategy is a significant step towards addressing the risk factors related to crimes that negatively impact the country's public safety, well-being, and public confidence in key government institutions.

Beginning in 2015, when the Myanmar Police Force received a mandate from the government to develop a NCPS, UNODC, with the financial support of the United Kingdom government, and the resulting Crime Prevention Committee has since worked closely with a number of key ministries and international experts to develop it in line with UNODC's Crime Prevention Guidelines, emphasising:

The NCPS is outlined under four main areas: crime prevention through social development, community-based crime prevention, environment induced crime prevention, and, rehabilitation and reintegration programming. The NCPS is further divided into local level, state/division regional level and national level interventions.

Lt. General Kyaw Swe, the Union Minister for the Ministry of Home Affairs, explains how crime prevention will be undertaken by the various actors, "the strategic actions should also be formulated for each level, such as division region/state level, district level and township levels to be implemented harmoniously. New forms of crime arise with change of governance systems and regimes; potential harmful socio- economic development and technical evolutions shall also be identified and prevented through the collective effort of government ministries, civil societies and the people."

Myanmar faces a number of major changes that can have substantial impact on crime and public safety. The movement of people from rural to urban areas is accelerating and when people find it difficult to secure employment in their new environments an increase in public disorder, survival crime, and petty thefts is often observed. Other crimes are also of concern, such as selling of drugs, theft of livestock and personal property, and firearms and weapons related offences.

It is clear that some of these crimes are affecting certain regions or parts of the country more than others. Border areas face their own crime challenges, while rural and urban crime trends vary from each other, and poverty has a greater impact on the criminality of certain segments of the population.

As a national priority, crime prevention goes well beyond the effective provision of police services. Although the role of the police in responding and preventing crime is absolutely central, many others must also recognize their respective responsibilities. It has become clear in today's world that the police and the criminal justice system cannot fight crime alone. There is now a new challenge for administrative authorities and organizations at all levels to cooperate in a more organized and effective way to prevent crime and contribute to public safety.

The strategy will operate for a three-year period. During this time, the government will focus on improving data collection, establishing necessary partnerships, and ensuring a comprehensive implementation of the strategy.

The Ministry of Home Affairs led the development of the drafting committee, which included the following members: Minister of Home Affairs, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Deputy Minister of Border Affairs, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Livestock and Irrigation, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communication, Deputy Minister of Education, Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance, Deputy Attorney General, Permanent Secretary of Information, Permanent Secretary of Religion and Culture, Permanent Secretary of Labour and Immigration, Permanent Secretary of Health and Sport, Permanent Secretary of Social Welfare, Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Director General of the Myanmar Human Rights Commission, Secretary of the Naypyitaw City Development Committee, Vice Chairman of the Women's Affairs Federation, Vice Chairman of the Maternal and Child Welfare Association, and the Chief of Police.