Weekly Media Roundup (7 – 13 July 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)

Statement:

[Malaysia] Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ): CIJ dismayed at continuing violations against freedom of expression 

 

General news 

United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures. “Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression: Research Paper 1/2018 | June 2018 | Encryption and Anonymity follow-up report” 

“In June 2015, the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Human Rights Council examined the ways in which encryption protects and promotes freedom of expression … Three years later, however, the challenges users face have increased substantially, while States often see personal, digital security as antithetical to law enforcement, intelligence, and even goals of social or political control. As a result, competing trends and interests have led, on the one hand, to a surge in State restrictions on encryption and, on the other hand, increased attention to digital security by key sectors of the private Information and Communications Technology (‘ICT’) sector.” 

 

Southeast Asia 

The Star Online: “Attacks on journalists are rising, but are media owners providing enough safety training?” 

“In recent years, attacks against the media have increased – not only regionally but also in countries that pride themselves on free speech and free press … Despite the rising violence against journalists, media practitioners in the region say their newsrooms are not providing the relevant safety training – physical, digital and legal – needed to protect themselves from the risks that come with the job.” 

 

Myanmar Times: “Thai court rejects trial of 14 Myanmar workers” 

“A Thai court dismissed the criminal defamation case brought against Myanmar migrant workers by Thammakaset Co Ltd on Wednesday (11 July 2018). The employees were charged with defamation after accusing the company of committing serious labour rights violations since 2016…. The Migrant Worker Rights Network, a Thailand-based group helping migrant workers from Myanmar, said Don Muang magistrate’s court ruled that the 14 workers were not guilty of the charge brought by Thammakaset.” 

See also: 

Bangkok Post: “Myanmar workers beat libel charges” 

Khaosod English: “Court acquits migrant poultry workers of defamation” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Thai Court Acquits Migrant Workers of Defamation” 

 

Cambodia 

Al Jazeera: “Cambodia’s Election Crackdown” 

“In late July, Cambodians will go to the polls for what critics say is a sham election…. Having dissolved the main opposition party and closed down media outlets critical of the government, the world’s longest-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen stands accused of using violence and intimidation to silence dissent.” 

 

TIME: “Chinese State-Linked Hackers in Large Scale Operation to Monitor Cambodia’s Upcoming Elections, Report Says” 

“Over the past few months, numerous rights groups, reporters and Cambodia observers have reported seeing a large spike in phishing messages and hacking attempts. Now a report from a leading U.S. cybersecurity firm suggests such cases may be linked to a large scale operation from a Chinese cyber espionage group seeking to monitor the country’s upcoming and contentious July 29 national elections.” 

 

Malaysia 

Malaysiakini: “M’kini granted leave to appeal COA decision on Raub gold mine” 

“News portal Malaysiakini has been granted leave by a three-member Federal Court bench to challenge an appellate decision that found the portal’s reports on Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) defamatory…. The Court of Appeal had ordered the portal earlier this year to pay RM200,000 in damages and another RM150,000 in legal costs to the gold mining company.” 

See also: 

The Star Online: “Federal Court grants Malaysiakini leave to appeal” 

 

Malay Mail: “Activist probed for sedition over article on royalty” 

“Activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said today (10 July 2018) she was the subject of a sedition investigation over an article she wrote on the royalty…. Through posts on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, the lawyer and activist said she was summoned today by Brickfields police concerning the article, which some had deemed anti-monarchy.” 

See also: 

Perkasa wants probe on activist for allegedly insulting royalty” 

Free Malaysia Today: “(Comment) Hands off Fadiah, please” 

 

Free Malaysia Today: “PH to allow more space for press freedom, says Saifuddin” 

“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has assured of greater space for press freedom in the country, with Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah saying the media plays an important role in Malaysia’s transition to a mature and democratic nation.” 

See also: 

Malaysiakini: “Press freedom not a gift from gov’t, says US professor” 

New Straits Times: “Political parties must not control media organisations, says Gobind” 

 

Myanmar 

Reuters: “Myanmar court presses secrets act charges against Reuters reporters” 

“A court in Myanmar on Monday (9 July 2018) charged two jailed Reuters journalists with obtaining secret state documents, moving the landmark press freedom case into its trial stage after six months of preliminary hearings…. Yangon district judge Ye Lwin charged reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, with breaching of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison…. Both journalists pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges, telling the judge they had ‘followed journalistic ethics’.” 

See also: 

Factbox: International reaction to charges against Reuters reporters in Myanmar” ; “Statement from Stephen J. Adler, President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters, July 9” ; “Timeline: Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar” 

Myanmar Times: “Ruling deals ‘hammer blow’ to press freedom, judiciary: rights experts” ; “Reuters case puts Myanmar at ‘a fork in the road’” 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar to Try Reuters Reporters on State Secrecy Charges in Move Seen as Blow to Press Freedom” 

Asian Correspondent: “Outrage as Reuters reporters charged in Burma” 

Voice of America (VOA): “Myanmar’s Prosecution of Reuters Reporters Highlights Mounting Challenge to Press” 

The New York Times: “Case Against Reuters Journalists in Myanmar Moves to Trial” 

Agence France-Presse (AFP): “Reuters reporters to face Myanmar trial for ‘breaking’ secrecy law” 

TIME: “Judge Rules That Two Reuters Journalists Detained in Myanmar Will Stand Trial” 

 

Reuters: “Myanmar arrests government critic under sedition law” 

“Myanmar police have arrested a prominent government critic on suspicion of violating sedition laws, the critic and media said on Friday (13 July 2018), an offense that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment…. Ngar Min Swe was arrested at his home late on Thursday, news website Eleven Media, which belongs to one of Myanmar’s largest media groups, said. Reuters was unable to determine what prompted his arrest or his current whereabouts.” 

 

The Irrawaddy: “Two Men Jailed for Three Months for Taking Part in Mandalay Peace Protests” 

“A court in Aung Myay Tharsan Township on Thursday (5 July 2018) sentenced two men to three months’ imprisonment for participating in peace protests in Mandalay in May…. The men were convicted of violating Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Act…. Ko Than Htike and Ko Thet Hnin Aung were arrested on May 12 in a shopping district in Mandalay as they handed out questionnaires in a bid to elicit locals’ views on the peace process and armed conflicts around the country.” 

 

The Irrawaddy: “Karenni Youth Activists Sued Over Aung San Statue Protest” 

“Sixteen ethnic Karenni youth activists were sued on Tuesday (10 July 2018) for organizing a protest against plans to erect a statue of late independence hero General Aung San in the Karenni State capital, Loikaw, according to a police letter posted online…. About 1,000 local Karenni marched against the project in Loikaw on July 3. The demonstration turned violent after police blocked the marchers’ path to the park where the statue is to be erected.” 

 

Philippines 

Philippine Daily Inquirer: “In Pasig, a local push for FOI” 

“If approved, a proposed ordinance in Pasig City may serve as a model for a localized version of the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which has been languishing in Congress for around three decades…. The draft ordinance calls for more transparency in local governance, especially with regards to the disclosure of financial records, contracts and other public documents.” 

 

Thailand 

The Nation: “Mission chief hits out at errant media” 

“The rescue mission chief on Monday (9 July 2018) issued a stern warning to the media covering the evacuation of footballers stranded in a Chiang Rai cave after a news outlet was found flying a drone without permission and another outlet reportedly got access to the police radio frequency and broadcast it.” 

See also: 

Media must introspect and learn from cave mission: experts” 

Bangkok Post: “Media behaviour comes under fire” ; “Cave drama prompts media curbs calls” 

Thai PBS: “Tham Luang cave ordeal puts spotlight on Thai media” 

9News. “Thai cave rescue: Journalist detained for drone stunt” 

 

Reuters. “Messages, sketches and hashtags: Thai cave rescue dominates social media” 

“Audiences around the world cheered the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand with messages of support as the saga generated suggestions of help, prayers and — finally — expressions of relief…. People turned to television, news sites and social media to keep up with the fate of the ‘Wild Boar’ soccer team that went missing while exploring the cave in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand on June 23.” 

 

Vietnam 

Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam” 

“Since the last periodic review in 2014, the government of Vietnam has shown little interest in improving its human rights record. It continues to restrict basic freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and religion. It owns and controls all media in the country, blocks or shuts down critical websites, and prosecutes those using social media to criticize the government and ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The CPV monopolizes the leadership of all public institutions and uses them to maintain its hold on power. Since the CPV came to power in 1954, it has never allowed free and fair elections. Vietnam’s National Assembly is almost entirely comprised of CPV members selected by the party itself. The courts and all ministries are under CPV control. Independent trade unions are prohibited and social organizations, religious groups, and civil society are tightly regulated.” 

 

NOTE 

All information and materials in this roundup are for general information and use only and do not constitute any advice or recommendation. 

All information and materials in this roundup are provided in good faith. Except for the information produced by SEAPA, we are not responsible for the contents or reliability of linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over availability of the linked websites.

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