WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (29 October – 4 November 2016)

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)

Alert:
[Burma] Military hinders independent reporting on Rakhine conflict

 

International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

November 2 marks the International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) for crimes against journalists. SEAPA joins the commemoration calling stakeholders to work together to end impunity:

Edgardo Legaspi, executive director
Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, director of the Cross Cultural Foundation
Pramed Lekpetch, vice president of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA)
Wirada Saelim, Thai Public Broadcasting Service (TPBS)
Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of the Human Rights Watch
Ye Naing Moe, director of the Yangon Journalism School

 

IFEX: “No Impunity” campaign

“Every day, citizens, journalists, artists and activists are harassed, tortured and killed for expressing themselves…. In the majority of these cases, no one is punished. We’re working to change this.”

 

United Nations: “Media Must Be Guaranteed Safe Environment without Intimidation, Secretary-General Says in Message Marking Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

“The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is mobilizing all partners to implement the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Success hinges on cooperation to create a culture of freedom of expression, where those who restrict the work of journalists are sanctioned and all who attack them are punished…. Towards this end, I call on all countries to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists with concrete actions to ensure that all media personnel are guaranteed the space they need to operate free from any form of harassment or intimidation.”

 

Global Investigative Journalism Network. “UN Report: ‘The Assault on Reporting’

“Messages from the most senior leadership matter, as I have pointed out in the wake of threatening comments made by the leaders of Thailand and the Philippines. The widespread failure to hold perpetrators accountable for attacks on journalists suggests the absence of concern for the role that journalists play in democratic societies.”

 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “RSF issues new list of press freedom predators

“To mark International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is today publishing a grim portrait gallery of 35 presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, torture or murder journalists.”

 

Southeast Asia

Financial Times: “Asia’s print media are on the ropes

“Singapore Press’s plight reflects how tough the environment has become for regional print media…. Advanced economies with a higher penetration of the internet and smartphones are witnessing an even faster slide in print media.”

 

Cambodia

VOA Khmer: “Journalist Worked to Uncover Cambodian Genocide, Tells New Generation of Reporters to Trust Instinct, Keep Digging

“Keep digging and researching, and trust your gut instinct when reporting stories that people may not want to believe are true. That was the message award-winning author and scholar of Cambodian history Elizabeth Becker had for journalists during a recent interview with VOA Khmer’s Ten Soksreinith. Becker spoke about a recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review about her 1978 visit to Pol Pot’s Cambodia and her decades long dispute with another reporter on their starkly different coverage of the country following their trip.”

 

Indonesia

The Jakarta Post: “Alleged hate sites shut down

“The government has blocked almost a dozen websites it accuses of stirring up ethnic, religious or racial (SARA) hatred, in a move that highlights the dilemma the country faces in upholding free speech while countering rampant hate speech on the internet.”

 

The Jakarta Post. “Revised ITE Law could hamper freedom of expression: Researcher

“The newly revised Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law could limit people’s right to freedom of expression because many provisions in the law expand the government’s role in controlling information, a researcher said on Monday (31 October 2016).”

See also:
Internet and freedom of speech
The Wall Street Journal: “Indonesia’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Raises Press Freedom Issues

 

Jakarta Globe: “Campaigning on Social Media New Focus for Election Watchdog

“Bawaslu (General Elections Supervisory Board) will get assistance from the National Police, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to monitor social media during the campaign period.”

 

Malaysia

Malaysiakini: “Journalism is not an act against parliamentary democracy

“Malaysiakini is now being investigated by the police for allegedly attempting to carry out ‘activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy’. We are flabbergasted by this outrageous accusation. How can fact-based news reporting tantamount to an attempt to derail our democratic tenets?”

See also:
Leaked doc: Soros has ‘personal interest’ in M’sian GE
Malaysiakini editors explain OSF grant to Jamal over coffee
Amnesty International. “Malaysia: Journalists at risk as threats to news site mount

 

Malay Mail Online: “Media extremism 101

“…it is ‘media extremism’ if certain sections of the media are prohibited from covering official functions of the government. For, over a period of time the banned media may unwittingly develop an image of being anti-government simply because they are denied the opportunity to cover government events. It invariably prevents the media concerned from practising fair and responsible journalism.”

 

Myanmar

Reuters. “Myanmar freedom of speech under threat amid Rakhine violence: monitors

“Human rights monitors have raised concerns about press freedom in Myanmar after a journalist at an English-language newspaper said she was fired following government criticism of her reporting of allegations of rape by soldiers.”

See also:
Frontier Myanmar: “Reporter’s sacking followed MoI phone call, sparking press freedom fears
The Guardian: “Myanmar journalist says she was fired over story on military rape allegations
The Irrawaddy: “Burma Army Obstructs Media Access in Northern Arakan State
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Myanmar obstructs reporters from covering crisis in Rakhine State

 

Eleven: “A royal defamation law and claims of political revenge

“A lawsuit between two teenage university students in Myanmar has focused attention on controversial laws intended to defend the government’s public image…. In this case, the issue is: Anyone assuming the right to file a lawsuit against someone over a defamation of the reputation of Aung San Suu Kyi under Section 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law would be likely to tarnish the image of the government of Myanmar in the international community.”

 

Philippines

BusinessWorld: “Task force on media killings buckles down to work

“The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) held its first organizational meeting last week ‘to develop and map out the agency’s plans and programs,’ Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar disclosed on Friday (28 October 2016).”

See also:
ABS-CBN News. “Journalists told: Unite to protect profession
The Philippine Star: “EDITORIAL – Impunity against journalists
Sun.Star Cebu. “Cabaero: ‘Bonus’ lives

 

GMA News Online: “Introducing the #HindiTama project

“…GMA News Online is starting up the #HindiTama project, which aims to put in check some of the viral hoaxes that spread on social media. We believe that whichever part of the political spectrum one falls on, fake news doesn’t do anyone any favors, and only serves to undermine the power of social media to enlighten…. The #HindiTama project will produce articles that will call out fake news and inaccurate memes, to hopefully help keep inaccurate information from spreading.”

 

The Philippine Star: “Privacy commission allows data sharing among government agencies

“Government agencies may share their data with one another as long as they follow rules on protecting personal information, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) has said.”

 

Thailand

Coconuts Bangkok: “Prayuth labeled ‘Predator of Press Freedom’ alongside ISIS, Kim Jong-un

“Following two years of media censorship, junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha was listed as a “Predator of Press Freedom” alongside ISIS, Putin, and Kim Jong-Un in the latest report by Reporters without Borders (RSF).”

See also:
Khaosod English: “Prayuth named ‘press freedom predator’ – again

 

Bangkok Post: “15 nabbed for lese majeste

“Fifteen people have been arrested for allegedly offending the monarchy over the past two weeks since His Majesty the King passed away on Oct 13, a senior police officer said Monday (31 October 2016).”

See also:
Teen ‘faked Facebook page’ to frame woman
Prachatai English: “Man arrested for lèse majesté Facebook post made under girlfriend’s request
The Nation/Asia News Network: “Thai police step up prosecution over ‘lese majeste’
Financial Times: “Thailand targets royal critics ahead of coronation

 

Prachatai English: “Army Cyber Centre tasked with lèse majesté hunt

“On 1 November 2016, Gen Chalermchai Suthisad, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), said that the army will use its cyber centres to monitor distorted news from within and outside the country. This relates especially to news that violates Article 112, the lèse majesté law, of the Criminal Code, Matichon Online reported.”

See also:
Bangkok Post: “Army tightens monitoring of social media
The Nation: “Chats will not be monitored in Thailand, LINE app says
Coconuts Bangkok: “LINE says it refuses Thai junta’s request to monitor chats for lese-majeste
Nikkei Asian Review: “Line’s Thai arm refuses to ‘monitor or block’ users’ contents

 

Bangkok Post: “Entertainment activities can resume Nov 14

“Entertainment activities and normal TV programming can resume from Nov 14, following a month of national mourning for His Majesty the late King, the government declared Tuesday (1 November 2016)…. However, speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government expected cooperation from TV hosts and operators of entertainment venues to avoid activities that could be interpreted as ‘uproarious or wild’.”

See also:
Entertainment businesses, activities to resume

 

Khaosod English: “Supreme Court dismisses defamation case against labor activist hall

“The top court Thursday (3 November 2016) dismissed a criminal defamation case against British labor activist Andy Hall that had been brought by a local fruit canning company and the attorney general, but his suspended prison sentence in a related case still stands.”

See also:
The New York Times: “Thailand Court Clears U.K. Labor Activist of Defaming Fruit Company

 

Prachatai English: “Man denied bail after posting photos of Crown Prince

“On 3 November 2016, the Military Court of the northern province of Chiang Rai granted police permission to continue to detain Sarawut (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 32-year-old optometrist, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported…. Sarawut is accused of breaking Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for allegedly posting two images of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy.”

 

Prachatai English: “Court dismisses charge against Pheu Thai politician

“On 31 October 2016, the Southern Criminal Court of Bangkok dismissed a charge under Article 14 (1) of the Computer Crime Act against Watana Muangsook, an anti-junta politician from Pheu Thai Party…. Watana was indicted on 2 March 2016 for an article titled ‘Too little IQ’ posted on his Facebook account…. The court dismissed the charge reasoning that Article 4 under the Interim Constitution guarantees that people have the freedom to express political ideas. The judges added that Watana’s other comments against the regime were also made under the framework of the law.”

 

NOTE

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

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