WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (10 – 16 June 2017)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:

 

Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Burma News International (BNI)
Myanmar Press Council holds ‘four pillars’ meeting in Rakhine

 

KIC (Karen Information Center) News celebrates its 20th anniversary with roundtable talks

 

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)
Court Denies Unsay Ampatuan’s Bail Petitions

 

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
“[STATEMENT] NUJP on safety of journalists covering Marawi City

 

Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Post: “Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

“After questioning three residents of Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune yesterday (14 June 2017), the provincial court announced that two Cambodia Daily reporters would be summonsed in two weeks to respond to questions regarding a complaint filed against them for seemingly routine reporting…. Provincial Prosecutor Chea Pich said that plaintiffs Rocham Yi, 28, Sev Born, 35, and former CNRP Commune Chief Rmam Yout, 41, were questioned yesterday, after their summonsing on June 4. ‘I just want to tell you that they already appeared to be questioned,’ he said…. He said the court would summons the two journalists for June 27. Pich said he was unaware of the specific charges against the two journalists. Previously, he had pointed to Article 171 of the Commune Election Law, which prohibits ‘causing confusion that leads to a loss of trust’ and compromising the secrecy of a vote.”

 

Radio Free Asia. “Cambodia’s Ruling Party Banking on Lack of Access to Independent Media: Civil Society

“A de facto monopoly on Cambodia’s radio waves has allowed the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to retain political control of the country’s northeast, according to civil society groups and residents, who have called on the government to allow independent media broadcasts into remote areas in the region.”

 

The Phnom Penh Post: “Government still mum over arrested Australian filmmaker

“Cambodian officials yesterday remained tight-lipped on the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, who was charged with gathering information prejudicial to national defence on Friday (9 June 2017).”

 

Indonesia

Jakarta Globe: “Video Uploader Buni Yani Set to Challenge Indictmenti

“The first session of the trial of Buni Yani, the man accused of uploading a heavily edited video to social media of a speech by Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama that resulted in blasphemy charges against the former Jakarta governor, took place in the Bandung District Court in West Java on Tuesday (13/06)…. Buni said he will challenge the indictment, which accuses him of knowingly spreading the video containing a section many consider to be insulting of the Koran. He added that he would convey his objection during the next hearing…. State prosecutor Andi M. Taufik accused Buni of violating Article 32 of the 2011 Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law.”

 

Malaysia

Malaysiakini: “Court bars media from covering Najib’s bid to set aside Pua’s suit

“The media has been barred from covering the hearing of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s application to strike out a suit related to 1MDB filed by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua…. Pointing to the presence of reporters, Najib’s lawyer Cecil Abraham reminded the court that the matter was fixed to be held in chambers, and as such, the public gallery should be emptied.”

 

Malaysiakini: “Spread positive news about country, Najib tells social media users

“Najib Abdul Razak has reminded social media users to spread positive news about the country and not negative ones…. The prime minister said they should use their influence to help instill a love for the nation because they have a big responsibility as social media users and could influence the public.”

 

Myanmar

The Irrawaddy: “Three Magwe-based Journalists Charged Under Article 66(d)

“Three reporters based in Magwe Township were charged by a village-tract administrator under Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Act…. U Htay Lwin, administrator of Mel Hla Taung village-tract filed a complaint with Magwe Township No. 2 Police Station against U Tin Shwe, editor-in-charge of local media outlet MGY News and Yatha Sone Journal, and reporters Ma Pu Pwint Nay Chi and Ma Zar Za San of the same outlet…U Tin Shwe said he wrote a post about brick kilns in a village in Mel Hla Taung village-tract on his Facebook page on May 28, questioning their legality as the Magwe divisional government restricts brick kilns due to environmental concerns.”

 

Frontier Myanmar: “Satirist released, Voice editor denied bail in military defamation case

“The Bahan Township court has again rejected a bail application for The Voice chief editor U Kyaw Min Swe, while dropping charges against a staff writer from the paper accused of defaming the military…. Presiding judge Daw Thara Phi Aung denied Kyaw Min Swe’s application for bail on medical grounds for procedural reasons, as the health report filed in support of his release was not authored by the duty doctor at Insein Prison…. During the same hearing, the satirist ‘British’ Ko Ko Maung was informed that charges against him had been dropped, after a representative from the Communications Ministry testified that there was no evidence he had shared the article at the centre of the case over the internet.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Satirist Released But Detention of Chief Editor Continues in Article 66(d) Case
ABS-CBN News: “Myanmar editor facing trial for posting satirical article on Facebook

 

Frontier Myanmar: “Yangon ministers defend ‘achievements’ in testy media conference

“In Yangon, though, the press conference took place amid tense confrontation between the regional government and the local assembly, whose members have accused Phyo Min Thein’s administration of lacking transparency and failing to keep them properly informed of its plans…. Journalists have also become frustrated by their inability to get interviews or information from the government. It’s common to be told that the minister in question is “taking a break” from talking to journalists. These “breaks” can run for months at a time.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Calling Media ‘Crows’ is Insulting

 

The Irrawaddy: “U Wirathu Claims Facebook Blocked His Accounts

“Myanmar’s ultranationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu claimed Facebook temporarily shut down his account in a video shared on another Facebook account last Friday (9 June 2017)…. ‘On May 31 [Facebook] said they would shut down the account for a month, after sending a report,’ he said, adding that he had not posted anything that violated Facebook policy…. A screenshot of Friday’s video displayed a report sent by Facebook saying the account was temporarily blocked for 30 days as the account holder had repeatedly made posts, which were not allowed on Facebook.”

 

The Irrawaddy: “Pathein Students Accused of Defamation Face Trial at District Court

“Pathein University students faced defamation charges at Pathein District Court on Wednesday (14 June 2017) after the military appealed last month’s acquittal by the township court…. The Tatmadaw sued nine students of Pathein University for defamation under Section 500 of the Penal Code after they staged a drama critical of military clashes with ethnic armed groups during a peace event in Pathein on Jan. 9.”

 

The Irrawaddy: “(Guest Column) Ethnic Media in Burma

“After reforms by Myanmar’s post-2011 government, the landscape for both mainstream and ethnic media has changed dramatically, with new media outlets blooming…. Abolishing the country’s censor board and welcoming exiled media groups to publish in-country, the quasi-civilian Thein Sein government pursued major advances toward press freedom. More than 885 publications—including 50 published in ethnic languages—have been approved by the government, up from 300 registered in 2014. Among these publications are three Chin language daily newspapers, 40 ethnic language journals and seven ethnic language magazines, according to Pe Myint, minister of information.”

 

Philippines

ABC. “Adam Harvey: ABC correspondent recovering after surgery to remove bullet from neck in Philippines

“ABC South-East Asia correspondent Adam Harvey has undergone a successful operation and is expected to recover well after he was struck in the neck by a stray bullet in the Philippines…Harvey is the first journalist to be hit by a bullet while covering the four-week conflict in the embattle southern city of Marawi, which has been seized by Islamist rebels.”

See also:

Adam Harvey, ABC correspondent, shot in neck while covering battle for Marawi in Philippines
philstar.com. “Abella to journalists covering Marawi: Stay out of trouble

 

INQUIRER.net: “Solon calls for legitimate journo registry to remove fake news

“A party-list lawmaker called for the creation of an online registry of legitimate journalists to free the media of the purveyors of fake news…. In a statement on Tuesday (13 June 2017), Aangat Tayo Rep. Harlin Abayon III called on the media organizations National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), and the National Press Club (NPC) to ‘come up with a detailed, verified, and secure national online registry of working journalists and legitimate news outlets.'”

See also:

Cebu Daily News: (Editorial) “Fake news

 

Rappler.com: “Suspect to be arrested for ‘cyber sedition’ related to Marawi crisis

“One person will soon be arrested for spreading terrorist propaganda online in relation to the Marawi crises, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said on Tuesday, June 13.”

See also:

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “AFP shuts down 10 of terrorists’ social media accounts
DAVAOTODAY.com: “STATEMENT| On Marawi, Martial Law and internet freedom

 

Philippine News Agency (PNA): “Congress urged to pass FOI bill

“Key officials of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) urged both chambers of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, a priority measure of the Duterte administration…. PCOO Undersecretary Noel Puyat and Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan made the call during the FOI conference entitled #FOIKnowMore: Moving Towards Enhanced Standard of Transparency at Richmonde Hotel Eastwood City in Quezon City…. In his keynote speech, Puyat said FOI implementation stands as one of the key pillars of the Duterte administration in its bid to ‘bring back the faith, trust and confidence of the people in the government’.”

See also:

Rappler.com: “PCOO echoes call for Congress to pass FOI law

 

Thailand

The Nation: “Court rejects ‘duplicate’ lawsuit against journalist and Nation News Network

“A Roi Et court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against The Nation journalist Pratch Rujivanarom and Nation News Network Co Ltd…. Myanmar Pongpipat Co Ltd sued both defendants, alleging they defamed it in a news report about the environmental impact on locals from its Heinda Mine in Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region…. On Monday (12 June 2017), the court ruled that the lawsuit was a duplicate of a case the company had filed with a Nakhon Pathom court and so it must be dismissed.”

 

Prachatai English: “Military bars press from forum on national park bill

“Military and police officers have prevented journalists from attending a forum on the controversial national park and wildlife protection bills, claiming that their presence could affect the image of the junta…. At 7:30 am on 12 June 2017 soldiers and police officers intimidated members of civil society groups and other participants at a public forum on the new national park and wildlife protection bills held at the Human Settlement Foundation Thailand in Wang Thonglang District of Bangkok.”

 

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We are very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing…”

“While our Office appreciates the complexity and sensitivity of the issue surrounding lèse majesté in Thailand, we are deeply troubled by the high rate of prosecutions and the courts’ persistence in handing down disproportionate sentences for the offence. All people have the right to freedom of expression, including when it comes to criticising public figures. Imprisonment of individuals solely for exercising the right to freedom of expression constitutes a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand acceded to in 1996. In March 2017, the UN Human Rights Committee, which reviews implementation of the ICCPR, concluded that Thailand should review Article 112 of the Criminal Code to bring it into line with Article 19 of the Covenant.”

 

Prachatai English: “No FB posts on dictatorship or corruption, military tells academic

“The military has threatened to detain an outspoken academic in a military barracks if he does not stop posting about corruption and dictatorship…. On 13 June 2017, Surapot Thaweesak, a well-known scholar of religion, posted on his Facebook account that military officers in Bangkok had warned him over political posts.”

 

The Nation: “Three Chinese suspects caught with thousands of SIM cards

“Sa Kaew immigration police arrested three Chinese men at a rented house on Sunday and seized 500 iPhones and almost 10,000 SIM cards on suspicion that they might be operating a transnational call-centre scam…. However, police then determined that they were working to generate ‘likes’ and webpage views promoting online goods, but they still faced charges including working in the county without permission.”

 

Bangkok Post: “Cybersecurity pros lacking in Thailand

“Thailand is facing a big shortage of information security professionals, with fewer than 1,000 Thais working in the cybersecurity field.”

 

Vietnam

VOA: “Vietnam Formally Charges Blogger Activist Honored by US

“Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom, the Vietnamese blogger who received the International Women of Courage Award from first lady Melania Trump in March has been formally charged by the Hanoi government for the very activities that earned her the honor, VOA Vietnamese reported…. The government charged Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, aka Mother Mushroom, with three criminal counts under Article 88 — ‘conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.’ The vaguely worded law has drawn international denunciation for the power it gives the government to suppress dissent.”

See also:

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Vietnam Extends Detention of Blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’

 

NOTE

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