WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (24 – 30 March 2018)

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

 

Cambodia

Reuters. “Cambodian court accuses journalists of pornography as well as espionage: lawyer

“A Cambodian court has charged two journalists with producing pornography in addition to espionage charges they already face for filing news reports to a U.S.-funded radio station, their lawyer said on Thursday (29 March 2018)…. Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) was shut in Cambodia last year amid a crackdown on the opposition and media by the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has accused the United States of trying to end his rule of more than 33 years.”

 

Khmer Times: “OHCHR recommends Cambodia decriminalise defamation

“The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia has recommended that the government decriminalise defamation in the wake of a woman being handed a two-year prison sentence for throwing her shoe at a CPP billboard…. The recommendation was made after the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday (22 March 2018) confirmed the conviction of Sam Sokha, who on January 25 was convicted in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison by Judge Ouk Retkhunthea.”

 

Malaysia

The Star Online: “Two changes to Anti-Fake News Bill

“Two changes will be made to the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 when it is passed, including the reduction of jail time for creating and spreading fake news from 10 years to six years…. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the other change was a proposal to replace the word ‘knowingly’ in clause four with ‘maliciously’.”

See also:

Liow: Bill will protect media from being victims of fake news” ; “Suhakam firmly against Anti-Fake News Bill
New Straits Times. “FAQs: What you need to know about the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018
Malay Mail Online: “Anti-fake news Bill will make people more careful, says Khairy” ; “Anti-Fake News Bill threatens freedom of expression and may lead to the suppression of critical speech — ICJ & Suaram
The Malaysian Insight: “Fake news law death knell for freedom of speech, say rights groups” ; “Don’t spread fake news, Umno social media bureaus told
Free Malaysia Today. “Newsmen: Anti-fake news law a bane for independent media outlets
Asian Correspondent: “Malaysia’s fake news Bill expected to pass next week
CNN: “Malaysia’s anti-fake news law raises media censorship fears
Aliran: “Anti-Fake News Bill a dangerous crackdown on freedom of expression
Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Malaysia: Drop Proposed ‘Fake News’ Law

 

Myanmar

Myanmar Times: “Colleagues, lawyers hope for release of jailed journalists

“Colleagues and Lawyers for the two journalists from Reuters news agency expressed hope that President-elect U Win Myint will take notice of their case and release them soon…. ‘The new president is also a lawyers and lawmaker as he was a speaker of the parliament. We are looking for good news about Myanmar’s laws and regulations during his time in office’ said U Khin Mg Shwe, one of the lawyers of Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27.”

See also:

Reuters: “Lawyers for Reuters reporters ask Myanmar court to dismiss case” ; “Rights lawyer Amal Clooney to represent Reuters reporters held in Myanmar

 

Myanmar Times: “Survival of Myanmar private media in doubt

“Media reforms in Myanmar were initiated in 2012, and the media landscape has had its ups and downs ever since. Freedom of the press has had a roller-coaster ride during those years. Local print media claims that in that time, it jumped from third worst position among 172 countries to about 134th out of 190 in the Reporters Sans Frontier’s Freedom of Press Index…. Myanmar stands third among Southeast Asian nations in press freedom, trailing only Indonesia and the Philippines. Is that something to be proud of? Some may say yes, but others who are sceptical say no. One thing is sure: Myanmar still has a long way to go.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Lawmakers Press Information Ministry to Open Up, Help Private News Outlets

 

The Irrawaddy: “Parliament Approves Funds for Internet Oversight Body

“The Union Parliament on Monday (19 March 2018) approved more than 6.4 billion kyats (US$7.8 million) to monitor the internet for people who use it to ‘harm the stability’ of the country…. U Thant Sin Maung, Union minister for transport and communications, said a monitoring body had been formed to identify those who instigate political instability on the Internet and social media and that the money would be spent on monitoring the Internet.”

 

Philippines

Rappler.com: “Cyber libel investigation vs Rappler starts rolling at DOJ

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun its preliminary investigation into the cyber libel complaint against Rappler…. The case was assigned to Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, and Assistant State Prosecutors Florencio Dela Cruz and Jeanette Dacpano…. The next hearing has been set on April 10 when complainant Wilfredo Keng will subscribe to his complaint. Complaints and affidavits are supposed to be subscribed to in the presence of a public prosecutor.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News: “DOJ begins probe into cyber libel raps vs Rappler

 

Singapore

Channel News Asia: “Non-mainstream media journalists call for Freedom of Information Act to fight fake news

“A trio of non-mainstream media journalists on Tuesday (Mar 27) advocated a Freedom of Information Act while espousing the ideals of openness, media literacy and public education to a parliamentary committee on deliberate online falsehoods.”

See also:

The Straits Times. “New laws against deliberate untruths should not compromise freedom of speech: SMU law don” ; “Call made for Freedom of Information Act in Singapore

 

Channel News Asia: “Human Rights Watch says Select Committee’s invitation not in ‘good faith’

“The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a scathing response to an invitation by the Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods to present evidence before the panel…. The committee’s actions ‘have made it clear that this is not a serious and good faith effort’ to discuss a HRW report from December last year, the non-profit organisation said in a press statement on Friday (Mar 30).”

See also:

Reuters: “Human Rights Watch declines Singapore’s invite to ‘fake news’ hearing

 

Thailand

The Nation: “NBTC orders Voice TV’s ‘Tonight Thailand’ off air for discussing French Revolution

“Voice TV’s nightly news talk programme ‘Tonight Thailand’ has been ordered to go off air for 15 days after the show discussed the French Revolution…. The station reported on Tuesday (20 March 2018) that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had ordered it, using an administrative measure, to suspend its broadcasting of the programme at any time for 15 days, and not to rerun the banned episodes either.”

See also:

Bangkok Post: “Voice TV to challenge NBTC ban on talk show” ; (Editorial) “Censorship gone wrong
Khaosod English: “Voice TV program suspended over junta criticism
Thai PBS: “Voice TV’s Tonight Thailand programme off the air for 15 days

 

Andy Hall’s Statement on 26th March 2018 Natural Fruit Co Ltd. 10 Million Baht Civil Compensation Ruling

“I have been informed by my legal team of the disappointing decision of Prakanong Court on 26th Mar 2018 ordering me to pay more than 10 million baht damages to Natural Fruit Company. I respect the decision of the Court. But I also strongly disagree with the verdict.”

See also:

The Nation: “Rights activist Hall ordered to pay Bt10m in libel suit
Khaosod English: “Thai court finds British labor activist defamed fruit firm
Deutsche Welle (DW): “Thailand seeks to silence labor rights activist
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). “Thailand: Sentencing of Mr. Andy Hall, a migrant labor rights researcher
Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Thailand: Verdict Threatens Labor Abuse Reporting

 

Bangkok Post: “Tom Dundee gets off lese majeste rap

“The Criminal Court Thursday (29 March 2018) threw out a lese majeste lawsuit filed against singer ‘Tom Dundee’ over his remark made during a red-shirt rally in 2011, citing insufficient evidence…. Thanat Thanawatcharanond, 59, better known as Tom Dundee, pleaded guilty to the charge when he was arraigned in court for allegedly insulting the monarchy when he addressed a red shirt protest rally on May 1, 2011, in Lamphun’s Muang district.”

See also:

The Nation: “Two rulings favour political activists accused of lese majeste
South China Morning Post: “Thai singer ‘Tom Dundee’ given rare acquittal in royal defamation case … but he is still in jail

 

Bangkok Post: “Court drops referendum charges against Pai Dao Din, friend

“The Phu Khieo Provincial Court of Chaiyaphum province has dismissed charges of violating the 2016 constitution referendum law against student activists Jatupat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa and Wasin Prommanee…. The two were charged with breaking Section 61 (2) of the law when they wore ‘Vote No’ T-shirts and handed out leaflets on ‘7 reasons why we shouldn’t accept charter’, an infographic prepared by the New Democracy Movement (NDM), at Phu Khieo fresh market in Chaiyaphum province on Aug 6, 2016, one day before the referendum vote.”

 

Global Voices. “‘Women Make the News’: Online Database Connects Journalists to Thai Female Experts

“Alarmed by the low number of women experts interviewed on mainstream media, UNESCO Bangkok has launched a website that links Thai journalists and researchers to female academics, government officials, corporate leaders, and NGO activists…. The ‘Women Make the News’ database was launched in 2017 to advance gender equality in the media and society. It provides a list of contacts of female experts to feature more women voices in news reports.”

 

NOTE

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

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