Burma: Government creates press council but excludes press
10 Aug 2012
ARTICLE 19 is concerned that today’s announcement by the Ministry of Information to create the Myanmar Core Press Council fails to recognise that the print media should be self-regulated by press councils established by the media sector, including journalists, in order to ensure the independence of the media and protect the right to freedom of expression.
“Today’s announcement by the government that an interim Press Council has been formed is regrettable. By replacing the censorship board by a body similarly composed and appointed by the government, the Burmese authorities are working on the same old autocratic assumption that the press must be controlled by the government and ruled over with an iron rod,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.
“Press councils should be established by journalists and other media actors as part of a self-regulatory system, independent from the government. ARTICLE 19 calls on the Ministry of Information to strengthen Burma’s democratic process by respecting freedom of the Media and promoting self-regulation of the print media,” she added.
The government announced the creation of the 20-member Myanmar Core Press Council after a series of protests in the country by new journalist associations calling for a free media and asking the government to replace the current Press Scrutiny and Registration Division – or censorship board – with a council elected by journalists.
The censorship board must still pass all news relating to politics or current affairs in order for them to be printed. Even the journalists’ protests for a free media have been completely censored.
A new and comprehensive media law was announced by the Minister of Information to ARTICLE 19 and other international organisations when we met in February 2012. The draft media law is reportedly currently in its sixth draft, although none of the drafts has been publicly published and no independent organisation has been able to provide comment.
Several media houses and journalist associations have already publicly announced that they will not abide by the newly announced Myanmar Core Press Council, stating that it was exclusive and appointed by the government.
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