Burmese journalists protesting in Yangon earlier this y ear. Pic: AP.

YANGON, Burma (AP) — Burma’s parliament has amended a controversial law that had requires people to obtain permission for public protests and subjects violators to penalties, including prison terms.

Under changes to the “Peaceful Assembly Law” the maximum penalty for those who cause unrest has been halved to one year in prison, while the penalty for those who fail to seek permission for protesting was halved to six months.

The amended law was published in state-run newspapers Wednesday.

The law was passed in December 2011 to allow public protests, which had been banned under the military junta that had ruled the country for half a century.

Human rights groups have criticized that the law, which has routinely been used to imprison land-grab victims and activists.