WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (18 – 24 February 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)


[Malaysia] Conviction of human rights defender shows censorship prevails

See also:
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Conviction of Lena Hendry a Serious Violation of Freedom of Expression


Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)
Cotabato Radio Blocktimer Shot Dead
Reporters Harassed by Presidential Security Detail
CA upholds grant of Ampatuan Massacre accused’s bail petition


Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)
RECAP: PCIJ REPORTS FROM 2003 TO PRESENT. Drugs, DDS, Jun Pala, and Duterte

See also:
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
Statements: NUJP calls for probe on broadcaster’s death ; Martin Andanar should put up or shut up


[Thailand] Supreme Court reduces sentence of editor in lèse majesté case


Southeast Asia

VOA News. “Amnesty International: Rights Slipping in Southeast Asia

“Amnesty International says Southeast Asia faces ongoing human rights challenges with activists and civil society targeted by governments amid ongoing failures of accountability by security forces…. In its latest annual report, covering 159 countries, Amnesty warns of a ‘shrinking civic space’ across Asia and the Pacific, as authorities invoke a range of repressive laws to criminalize peaceful expression.”



The Phnom Penh Post: “Analyst Kim Sok arrested, jailed after showing up for questioning

“Political analyst Kim Sok was charged, arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on Friday (17 February 2017) afternoon after showing up for questioning at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, according to court spokesman Ly Sophana…. Sok faces a pair of defamation and incitement cases filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The first came after statements the premier alleges suggest the ruling Cambodian People Party’s involvement in the July murder of political analyst Kem Ley.”

See also:
Khmer Times: “Jailing of analyst criticized


Radio Free Asia: “Jail Term Handed to Cambodian Man For Facebook Threat to Hun Sen

“A 27-year-old man has been sentenced to two years in prison for Facebook posts that threatened Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to news reports…. Ven Sopheap, a resident of eastern Prey Veng province, admitted during his trial last week to posting threats against Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, according to foreign news agency and local press reports.”


The Cambodia Daily: “CNRP Activist Seeking Asylum After Incitement Summons

“A 25-year-old opposition activist is seeking asylum abroad after fleeing Cambodia to escape a court summons for incitement, he said on Monday (20 Fevruary 2017)…. Oun Vansak, who managed the Facebook page I Love Cambodia Hot News II, said he left the country on Thursday (16 February 2017) ahead of a court date on Friday (17 February 2017), and accused authorities of cracking down on freedom of expression.”



The Jakarta Post. “COMMENTARY: Media barcode to shield public and industry from fake news

“The plan to introduce bar codes for media companies, an initiative launched by the Indonesian Press Council announced on National Press Day in Ambon on Feb. 9, goes beyond simply fighting the proliferation of fake news…. It is intended to help to build the nation’s media and internet literacy.”


The Jakarta Post. Opinion: “No live broadcast, no violations of press freedom

“Feb. 21 saw the 11th hearing in the blasphemy trial of Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. There were no TV cameras inside the courtroom during the session, let alone live broadcast, as decided by the panel of judges when the trial began on Dec. 13…. Presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarso told the press back then that live TV coverage was permitted, except during testimony of witnesses…. For freedom of the press campaigners, such a limitation constitutes a violation of people’s right to information, hence a transgression of democracy.”



Malay Mail Online: “Court finds film activist guilty for showing Sri Lanka war documentary without approval

“Activist Lena Hendry has been found guilty by the Magistrate Court today for allegedly screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war without the approval of the Censorship Board…. Magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris found the Pusat Komas programme manager guilty of censorship charges after the defence failed to prove reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.”

See also:
The Star Online: “Activist Lena Hendry disappointed over conviction
Free Malaysia Today: “CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary
Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Malaysia: Convicted for Showing a Film


Malaysiakini: “Journalism must be reconstituted, says DPM Zahid Hamidi

“Journalism as a profession must be reconstituted as a form of self-regulation, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today (22 February 2017)…. Zahid said there was a need to redefine the journalists and media writers so that the question like who could be a journalist should be seriously addressed.”



Article 19. “Myanmar: Journalist reporting on illegal logging and corruption facing threats and harassment

“ARTICLE 19 is concerned about continued harassment and legal action, filed by members of the military and police, against freelance journalist U Oo Nyein, apparently in response to his articles about illegal activities in the logging and livestock sectors. U Oo Nyein regularly reports for Hot News Journal and works in conflict areas in Kachin State, Myanmar. He has faced years of harassment for his investigations into corruption, and fears that the most recent legal action will lead to his imminent arrest. His concerns follow the killing of Eleven Media journalist Soe Moe Tun in December 2016, thought to be linked to his reporting on illegal logging. Soe Moe Tun’s killers have not been brought to justice.”


The Nation: “Myanmar media outlets enter new era

“After more than a year of civilian rule in Myanmar, the country’s media has started to emerge from a climate of fear and suppression. But as the country’s media sector grows rapidly, there are still challenges facing the industry in this newly opened nation now embracing modern times.”



ABS-CBN News: “Duterte ordered Jun Pala’s death, says alleged DDS leader

“A retired police officer who claims to be a leader of the alleged Davao Death Squad said then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ordered the killing of journalist Jun Pala…. In a press briefing at the Senate on Monday (20 February 2017), SPO3 Arturo Lascañas said he was contacted by Duterte through his right-hand aide to kill Pala, a Davao journalist widely known for his work on exposing corruption of local politicians.”

See also:
Andanar loses cool over questions about $1k bribe claim
GMA News Online: “Duterte paid P4M to have Davao journalist Jun Pala killed, ex-cop claims
INQUIRER.net: “Duterte ordered killing of Jun Pala—confessed DDS leader
The Philippine Star. “Ex-cop: I killed broadcaster on Rody’s order
CNN: “Ex-Davao Death Squad leader: Duterte ordered bombings
BusinessWorld: “Retired policeman changes tune, tags Duterte in Davao Death Squad
InterAksyon.com: “US$1,000 PAYOLA? | Andanar steps back after Senate reporters demand apology
Rappler.com. “Senate media to Andanar: Prove claim or apologize for fake news
SunStar Philippines: “Andanar tones down remark vs Senate reporters following bribe claim
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Ex-police official admits role in Filipino radio journalist’s murder


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Alvarez wants social media regulated, seeks probe on fake users

“Social media regulation has been a contentious issue, with debates ranging from suppressing free speech to the lack of online accountability…. However, some governments are trying to adopt strict online measures while others have banned social media providers or blocked website altogether.”


GMA News Online: “Adult netizens with 1K followers above can get Palace accreditation

“The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has released its social media policy draft, ahead of its consultation with stakeholders at the University of the Philippines (UP) on Thursday (23 February 2017), as it moves to accredit bloggers to cover Malacañang events.”

See also:
Rappler.com. “Draft Palace policy: No lies, foul language for bloggers



Yahoo! News: “BBC journalist faces five years jail for reporting in Thailand

“A British journalist with the BBC faces up to five years in a Thai jail after a lawyer brought a criminal defamation case against him over an investigation into fraud on a popular tourist island…. Rights groups say the case exposes how Thailand’s broad defamation and computer crime laws scupper investigative journalism and make it difficult to expose wrongdoing in a country where corruption is endemic…. The prosecution was sparked by a September 2015 report by Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, looking at how two foreign retirees were scammed out of their properties in Phuket.”

See also:
Bangkok Post. “BBC reporter: 5 years jail for Thailand reporting lawsuit
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand


The Nation: “Lese majeste convicted Somyot’s term reduced to 7 years

“The Supreme Court Thursday (23 February 2017) reduced imprisonment of lese majeste convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to seven years…. The verdict reversed the criminal and the appeal courts’ ruling that Somyot be imprisoned 10 years for two crimes regarding the publishing of two lese majeste articles and imposed instead a six-year jail term against him.”

See also:
VOA News: “Thai Court Reduces Jail Time for Editor Convicted of Insulting Monarchy
Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Thailand: Quash Editor’s Conviction for ‘Insulting Monarchy’


The Nation: “NRSA reduces number of govt officials on medial council, but journalists protest

“The National Reform Steering Assembly’s (NRSA) media reform committee has agreed to cut the number of permanent secretaries that will sit on the media professional council from four to two after protests from news outlets…. The permanent secretaries on the council will come from just the Culture Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. The two vacant seats will be filled by representatives from independent agencies – the National Human Rights Commission and the Consumer Protection Board…. Media outlets, however, remained unsatisfied with the changes.”

See also:
Media must boost its standards to win back public trust: Thepchai
Bangkok Post: “NRSA panel reviews media bill


The Nation. “New information bill will fail to support Thailand 4.0: Meechai

“The new public information draft bill, which was amended from the previous version promulgated in 2007, would still not support the new social and economic Thailand 4.0 model, chief charter drafter Meechai Ruchupan told a forum yesterday (22 February 2017)…. He said the initiative was part of a move made by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), which want to come up with a more up-to-date bill that facilitates free access to public information in line with people’s rights addressed in the draft charter.”


The Straits Times: “Thai army urged to drop case against 3 activists

“Rights groups yesterday urged the Thai army to drop defamation charges against three activists over a report on torture in the conflict-hit south, decrying the prosecution as an effort to silence critics…. A state prosecutor was handed the case file yesterday (21 February 2017) and will now decide whether to press on with the controversial charges against Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Anchana Heemmina and Somchai Homlaor.”

See also:
Khaosod English: “Amnesty chairwoman says military’s criminal suit was just the start


The Nation: “Dhammakaya devotees steal a march over DSI in social media war

“While Dhammakaya Temple supporters are furious about biased reporting in the mainstream media regarding the ongoing stand-off with authorities, the temple has also used the media, notably social networks, to shape public opinion.”



Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “‘I wanted to stay and fight for my beliefs’ says jailed Vietnamese blogger forced into exile

“Vietnamese journalist and religious activist Dang Xuan Dieu was granted early release January 12 from a 13-year prison sentence on anti-state charges filed over his critical reporting. As with recent early releases of other jailed Vietnamese journalists, Dieu was forced to immediately board a plane and go into exile as a condition for his freedom.”



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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