Weekly Media Roundup (21 – 27 April 2018)

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)


Online freedom of expression in the Mekong region: improving self-regulation – World Press Freedom Day 2018 public panel



Global Information Society Watch 2017 special edition: Unshackling expression – A study on laws criminalising expression online in Asia


Southeast Asia

Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “RSF Index 2018: Asia-Pacific democracies threatened by China’s media control model” 

“The Chinese model of state-controlled news and information is being copied in other Asian countries, especially Vietnam and Cambodia. North Asia’s democracies are struggling to establish themselves as alternative models. Violence against journalists is increasingly worrying in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.”

See also:

Foreign Brief. “‘You’re fake news’: censorship in Southeast Asia” 

UCAN News: “Threats of violence against journalists continue to rise in Asia” 


Freedom House. “Attacks on the Record: The State of Global Press Freedom, 2017-2018” 

“…media independence is under pressure in every region of the world, but also that dedicated journalists are still playing a vital role in even the most hostile environments.” 


Bangkok Post: “Laos vows to help track Thai fugitives” 

“Thai political fugitives in Laos will be kept under strict surveillance to prevent them from engaging in lese majeste activities, the Laos government has assured Thailand…. Lt Gen Souvone Leuangbounmy, chief-of-staff of the Lao People’s Armed Forces (LPAF), yesterday (22 April 2018) played down Thai authorities’ concerns about political fugitives and those wanted under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, there.” 


The Irrawaddy: “Launch of Report on Karen Crisis Blocked in Thailand under Pressure from Tatmadaw” 

“At the request of the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw), Thai authorities on Wednesday (25 April 2018) shut down a launch event for a new report warning of a humanitarian crisis in Karen State and detailing ongoing human right abuses against local people there by the Tatmadaw.” 


Coconuts Yangon: “Evidence of automation raises additional questions in Twitter ‘bot’ surge” 

“After a week of intense scrutiny and speculation about the origins of faceless Twitter accounts that recently began following journalists in Southeast Asia by the hundreds, the company declined to acknowledge anything foul or unusual afoot. Instead, users were left with the impression that Twitter believes the swell in strange accounts to be an expression of the natural ebbs and flows in membership in what the company considers to be a growth region.” 


Philippine Information Agency (PIA): “ASEAN human rights body leads multi-sectoral dialogue on freedom of expression” 

“In line with its commitment to protect freedom of expression, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) organized a dialogue with various stakeholders in the region to discuss the challenges brought by the information age to this universal right and recommend ways to address these.” 



Reuters: “Cambodian journalist charged with incitement flees amid crackdown” 

“A Cambodian journalist charged with ‘incitement to commit a felony’ over his election coverage said on Tuesday (24 April 2018) he had fled the country fearing arrest and had been given refugee asylum status by the U.N. refugee agency…. Aun Pheap, 54, now in the United States, was charged in August last year along with a colleague, Zsombor Peter, a Canadian, after an interview with former opposition members.” 


The Phnom Penh Post: “Cambodia’s press freedom ranking plunges” 

“Cambodia has dropped 10 places in the World Press Freedom Index and risks mimicking China’s silencing of criticism, according to new data from international organisation Reporters Without Borders…. The index, released on Wednesday (25 April 2018), shows Cambodia is now ranked 142 out of 180 countries, down from a ranking of 132 last year.” 


The Phnom Penh Post: “Freedom of expression online in Cambodia ‘stifled by laws’” 

“Cambodian laws are muzzling online expression, a new regional report launched on Tuesday (24 April 2018) has found…. The report, Unshackling Expression, studies online freedom in Asia and finds that Cambodia’s existing laws – especially surrounding defamation and sedition – are often so vague as to allow room for abuse.” 



Malaysiakini: “Malaysiakini mounts constitutional challenge against Anti-Fake News Act” 

“News portal Malaysiakini today (27 April 2018) filed a judicial review application to challenge the constitutionality of the recently passed Anti-Fake News Act 2018…. The portal is the first to file the challenge against the controversial law which had been highly criticised by federal lawmakers and also human rights groups.” 

See also: 

Arab News: “Malaysian media challenges ‘anti-fake news’ law as unconstitutional” 


BFM 89.9: “The history of fake news” 

“With the term ‘Fake News’ entering our everyday lexicon, Assistant Professor of Media and Communications Gayathry Venkiteswaran explains the history of fake news, how strategies to deal with disinformation have (or have not) evolved over time, and what the impact of fake news say about our collective media literacy.” 

See also: 

ARTICLE 19. “Malaysia: Anti-Fake News Act should be repealed in its entirety” 



Reuters: “Myanmar court to rule if key witness credible in Reuters case” 

“A judge in Myanmar will rule next week on whether a police captain was credible when he testified that two Reuters reporters were framed, after prosecutors argued on Wednesday (25 April 2018) that the officer should be declared an unreliable witness…. In what has become a landmark press freedom case, Captain Moe Yan Naing told the court on Friday that a senior officer had ordered police to ‘trap’ one of the two journalists arrested in December, telling police to meet reporter Wa Lone at a restaurant in Yangon and give him ‘secret documents’.” 

See also: 

Detained in Myanmar” 

Mizzima: “Family of whistleblowing Myanmar cop evicted after testimony” 

The Irrawaddy: “Wife Of ‘Scapegoat’ Police Officer in Reuters Trial Appeals for Help” ; “Court to Decide on ‘Hostile Witness’ Status in Reuters Case” ; “Civil Society Groups Urge Release of Reuters Reporters” 

The New Yorker: “Myanmar Jails Two Reporters for Exposing a Massacre” 



Rappler.com: “Rappler’s Maria Ressa appears at DOJ over cyber libel complaint” 

“Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa appeared at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, April 24, to swear to the truthfulness of the affidavit that her lawyers will file on her behalf on Wednesday, April 25…. This in connection with the cyber libel case filed over a news report published in May 2012.” 

See also: 

Cyber libel charges ‘unfounded’ – Rappler’s Maria Ressa” 

Manila Bulletin: “Rappler faces tax evasion, libel charges at DOJ probe

The Philippine Star: “Rappler execs want libel raps dropped” 

GMA News: “Ressa submits counter-affidavit to cyber libel complaint at DOJ” 

INQUIRER.net: “Maria Ressa asks DOJ to dismiss cyber-libel complaint” 


INQUIRER.net: “FOCAP ‘deeply alarmed’ on banning of some members at gov’t briefings” 

“The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) on Friday said it was ‘deeply alarmed’ over recent incidents banning its reporters to cover press briefings by Philippine government officials…. FOCAP said some of its members, who were properly accredited by the government’s International Press Center (IPC), were stopped from covering a news conference by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello in Singapore on Friday (27 April 2018).”

See also:

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Foreign correspondents at Asean meet hit Palace over denied access” 

ABS-CBN News: “Foreign media barred from covering PH press briefings in Singapore” 

GMA News: “FOCAP ‘deeply alarmed’ by restricted access to press briefings at ASEAN Summit in Singapore” 

philstar.com: “Foreign correspondents protest Philippine ‘strong actions’ vs press” 


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “House toughens rules for media” 

“Journalists who ‘besmirch the reputation of the House of Representatives, its officials or members’ may lose their credentials to cover the chamber, according to new ground rules for the media set by the House leadership.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “Media ‘besmirching’ House to be banned from coverage” 


philstar.com: “Duterte tirades vs media no threat to press freedom, Palace says” 

“President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against the Philippine media do not threaten their ability to report, Malacañang said on Thursday (26 April 2018), a day after an international media watchdog noted a dip in the country’s ranking in its press freedom index…. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that it is just natural for the chief executive to answer ‘untrue’ stories supposedly published in media.” 

See also: 

Rappler.com: “Roque claims Duterte tirades don’t threaten press freedom” 

GMA News: “Palace rejects view Duterte’s tirades threatening press freedom in PHL” 

ABS-CBN News. “Palace: Duterte tirades not harmful to press freedom” 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Palace denies attacks on press freedom” 


Manila Bulletin: “PNP to create FOI desks for transparency issues” 

“The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday (25 April 2018) welcomed the order of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to establish Freedom of Information (FOI) sections or desks in all of the police stations across the country ‘to promote the transparency of information….’ Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, PNP spokesperson, said the creation of FOI desks will ensure that the public will have easy and direct access to police documents such as spot reports or police blotters.” 

See also: 

GMA News: “NAPOLCOM orders creation of PNP freedom of information desks” 

INQUIRER.net: “Napolcom orders PNP to form FOI desk in police offices” 


InterAksyon: “Why ‘The Bedan Roar’ student publication refuses to be silenced” 

“The official student publication of San Beda University-Senior High School, The Bedan Roar, has been barred from distributing 1,700 copies of its second issue for allegedly being ‘too critical and too negative….’ Citing student demand for the issue, the editorial board uploaded the publication online on April 1 and posted an official statement on their Facebook page explaining the reason the distribution was halted.” 


SunStar Zamboanga: “Mindanao Independent Press Council organized” 

“Journalists from across Mindanao have organized the Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC) ad interim that would serve as the umbrella organization of media associations and practitioners on the island.” 


philstar.com: “Interaksyon begins operations under Philstar Global” 

“Interaksyon.com, which is now under digital media company Philstar Global Corp., has started its operations with a new mission: to reframe online conversations…. In a country considered as the world’s social media capital, the new Interaksyon tells stories that seek to engage its readers to discussions on crucial points sometimes missed in social media exchanges.” 



Khaosod English: “Thailand rises 2 spots in World Press Freedom rankings” 

“Thailand this year rose two spots from last year on the press freedom index, according to a Wednesday (25 April 2018) report…. Improving on their previous mark of 142, Thailand ranked 140th place out of 180 countries, according to the Reporters without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, or RSF, published on Wednesday.” 

See also: 

Thai PBS: “Thailand’s press freedom ranking rose two spots to 140” 



Saigoneer: “Vietnam’s #MeToo Movement Begins With Sexual Assault Allegation at Tuoi Tre” 

“On April 19, a number of journalists shared a rumor on social media about a young intern at Tuoi Tre who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a head of department. According to the rumor, the intern reportedly attempted suicide and was hospitalized after the incident. The posts quickly received widespread attention … The scandal has prompted many women, especially female journalists, to come forward with stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, including their own encounters, shedding light on a rarely discussed issue.” 




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

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