Court order lifts temporary ban against Voice TV

[Thailand] SEAPA lauds court’s decision lifting Voice TV ban; says it ‘gives grounds for hope’

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) welcomes the decision of the Thai court allowing Voice TV to resume its broadcast operations after initially being suspended for 15 days.

The Central Administrative Court handed down the decision on Friday, 15 February 2019, effectively lifting the temporary ban imposed by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on the digital TV broadcaster on 12 February 2019.

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Weekly Media Roundup (9 – 15 February 2019)

Some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week

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[Philippines] SEAPA, other groups issue joint statement of solidarity with Ressa and Rappler; call for all charges to be dropped

The news website, and its journalists, do not deserve to be persecuted. On the contrary, they must be lauded and allowed an enabling environment in which to carry out their work.

We call for all charges leveled against Maria Ressa and Rappler to be dropped, and call on President Rodrigo Duterte to restore genuine press freedom in the Philippines.

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Rappler CEO Maria Ressa talks with the media after posting bail. | Photo by CMFR

[Philippines] Rappler’s Maria Ressa Posts Bail on Cyber Libel

Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa posted bail today, 14 February 2019, at Branch 46 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with a cyber libel charge over an article the online news site published in 2012.

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[Philippines] AJI Condemns the Arrest of Journalist Maria Ressa

Based on these new developments in the Philippines, AJI stated:

1. Condemning the arrest of Maria Ressa. This arrest was none other than an attempt to silence journalists and media who were critical to the government.

2. Expressing solidarity and support for Maria Ressa, Rappler and our colleagues in the Philippines, The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

3. Urging the Philippine government to respect democracy, protect the freedom of the press by stopping all kinds of intimidation and drop all charges against Maria Ressa.

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[Philippines] An Attack on One is an Attack on All

We call on the press and media community to condemn this outrage and to stand with Rappler. An attack on the freedom of one journalist or one news organization weakens the capacity of the entire institution to report the truth and is an attack on all of us and on democracy itself.

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[Philippines] Arrest of Maria Ressa is persecution by a bully government

Even as we are certain they will hold the line, we stand with Maria and our colleagues at Rappler and urge all colleagues who value the work we do and the independence essential to it to circle the wagons and resist this blatant assault on our right and liberties.

We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with the independent Philippine press in defense of the rights not only of media but of the people. For in suppressing the press it is the people’s right to know that is trampled on.

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[Philippines] Rappler’s Maria Ressa arrested for cyber libel

Journalist Maria Ressa was arrested Wednesday, 13 February 2019, for online libel by officers of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Rappler’s office, in Pasig City. 

We will “cooperate with the authorities and try to post bail tonight,” Ressa said during the brief press conference held at Rappler’s office immediately after the arrest warrant was served.

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[Philippines] Maria Ressa’s arrest ‘belies all pretense of upholding press freedom’ —SEAPA

“The issuance of the arrest warrant and the entering of charges against Maria Ressa should settle any remaining doubt that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration will stop at nothing to keep a free and inquisitive media out of its way.”

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NUJP national chairperson Nonoy Espina and Negros Press Club president Boy Duran react on the “drug list” implicating local journalists in Bacolod City.

[Philippines] Negros media up in arms over ‘drug list’

The media community in the central Philippine province of Negros Occidental was up in arms following the circulation since late last week of at least three lists of purported “drug protectors” that included at least 15 of their colleagues.

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Photo from the Facebook of Sirote Klampaiboon, Voice TV news host

[Thailand] Voice TV shutdown yet another assault on press freedom —SEAPA

Such perceived risk is unwarranted and could only be construed as yet another unmistakable curtailment of press freedom by the ruling junta. At a time when Thailand is on the cusp of a new election that has been put off countless times, much to the frustration of a nation that has grown weary of military rule, the NBTC’s order could not have sent off a stronger signal. That is, the state will not countenance media outfits, who, in asserting their fundamental right to inform and engage the public in meaningful discussions of important issues, dare cross the former’s path. 

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[Philippines] Cyber attack downs NUJP site twice

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) website was briefly inaccessible twice on 8 February 2019 in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, the group said in a statement.

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Photo from Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists)

[Indonesia] President Jokowi revokes commutation of death sentence for convicted journalist killer (UPDATED)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has revoked his grant of remission to convicted mastermind in the killing of Radar Bali journalist Anak Agung Bagus Narendra Prabangsa, Jakarta Post reported on 9 February 2019. 

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[Vietnam] Radio Free Asia blogger goes missing after seeking refugee status in Thailand

Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat has been missing since 26 January 2019, and no one knows his whereabouts. Just three days ago, on 5 February 2019, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that they have lost contact with Nhat and are “extremely concerned” about his safety and well-being.  

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(L-R) Orapin Yingyongpathana, The Momentum; Chonthicha Jangrew, Democracy Restoration Group; Tanawat  Wongchai, Student Union of Thailand; Prasong Lertratanawisute, ISRA News Agency; Kulachada Chaipipat, formerly of SEAPA

[Thailand] In run-up to next election, media must step up its game — says forum

The event, called “A Public Forum on Election and Media Coverage in Thailand: Challenges and Opportunities for Broadening Public Discourse,” gathered 60 representatives from news organizations, journalists’ groups, and civil society to discuss the role of the media during elections, and the state of its coverage of political issues.

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Sorn Sithy (Photo from Facebook)

[Cambodia] Journalist beaten to death in Kratie province

A motorcycle-riding journalist was stoned and beaten to death by a group of unidentified male attackers on Monday midnight, 4 February 2019. 

Suos Chamroeun, provincial deputy police chief in charge of criminal cases, said in an interview Monday that Kratie provincial and Snuol district police were investigating the murder of 18-year-old Sorn Sithy, who worked for BTBP TV Online, in Pi Thnou commune.

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(L-R) Min Pov, VOD; Norman Goh, Malaysiakini; Karel Jiaan Antonio, ANFREL; Pravit Rojanaphruk, Khaosod English.

[Thailand] Media vital in shaping public discourse during election, says monitoring group

Karel Jiaan Antonio, program officer for campaign and advocacy of the Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), said that as election monitors, they recognize the important role of the media during elections in shaping public discourse.

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[Myanmar] Dismal state of free expression today’s reality under NLD-led gov’t

In its latest report on free speech, “Dashed Hopes: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Myanmar,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) outlined the current civic space for journalists and civil society in the country. While laws that criminalize free speech and defamation were enacted by previous administrations in Myanmar, the NLD government whose de facto leader is Aung San Suu Kyi, once known as the country’s icon of democracy, has made no progress in repealing or amending these laws, said the report released on 31 January 2019.

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[Thailand] Media-public forum shines a light on bleak realities of election reporting

Now that the long-awaited national election in Thailand is a certainty, how does the local media fare in the public eye in terms of its coverage of important issues that are relevant to the highly anticipated political exercise?

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