The Telecommunications Law's controversial Section 66(d) has been used for 38 court prosecutions since Aung San Suu Kyi's party took power and 15 of them are being detained, researchers say.
There are 45 Section 66(d) cases under way, with seven initiated under the Thein Sein administration and five resulting in charges. Under the National League for Democracy government, 38 cases are ongoing with 15 people being held in custody.
Anyone can sue anyone else under the section for alleged online abuse, regardless of whether they were the subject of the remarks. It carries a threat of up to three years in prison and suspects are normally refused bail, which is deeply controversial for alleged defamation, meaning it is often used to jail journalists and political activists during prolonged trials.
Maung Saung Kha, a member of the research team, said: “This law should be amended because there are more and more people who have been detained and prosecuted under this law. More and more people who criticise and insult the government might be arrested. There are many weaknesses. People use fake Facebook accounts and can make false statements in order to get someone arrested. It is making the most trouble for the public. The legislative branch should not ignore it. The Parliament should amend it.”
He continued that their report on why the law should be amended was going to be sent in early 2017 to the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications.
A demonstration is due to be held in front of Yangon City Hall in January.
People from different sectors, including political party members, journalists, human rights activists, charity volunteers and others, are being prosecuted under the section.