Weekly Media Roundup (8 – 14 September 2018)

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


General news 

Poynter: “These fact-checkers were attacked online after partnering with Facebook” 

“…at least three of Facebook’s 34 fact-checking partners have been trolled, doxxed or threatened for working with the social media company. Fact-checkers told Poynter the attacks made it harder for their short-staffed operations to do their jobs — especially in countries where accountability journalism is under constant threat.” 


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation | Handbook for Journalism Education and Training” 

“Written by experts in the fight against disinformation, this handbook explores the very nature of journalism with modules on why trust matters; thinking critically about how digital technology and social platforms are conduits of the information disorder; fighting back against disinformation and misinformation through media and information literacy; fact-checking 101; social media verification and combatting online abuse.” 


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Safety Kit” 

“The world is increasingly more dangerous for the press. To stay safe, journalists and their editors need appropriate training, equipment, and other resources, such as insurance and equipment, as well as timely, accessible information. CPJ’s four-part Safety Kit provides journalists and newsrooms with basic safety information on physical, digital and psychological safety resources and tools.” 


Southeast Asia 

Reuters: “Southeast Asian cyber security center opens in Thailand” 

“A cyber security center opened in Thailand on Friday (14 September 2018) to train personnel from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help combat cyber threats in the attack-prone region…. The idea of the ASEAN-Japan Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre came from a meeting between ASEAN and Japan’s ministers in Cambodia last year.” 


Crunchbase: “3 Findings from the Southeast Asian Tech Scene” 

“Southeast Asian tech is on a roll. With Grab and Go-Jek entering the upper echelons of ride-share royalty with multi-billion dollar valuations, and hundred million dollar funds becoming the ‘new normal’ among leading VCs in-region, it’s hard to argue against Southeast Asia making the shortlist of the world’s hottest hubs for startups and innovation.  Strategically nestled between the major markets of India and China, Southeast Asian countries benefit from easy access to nearly 60% of the world’s population.” 



ABC. ” (Opinion) Open letter to Marise Payne: Will Australia let James Ricketson unjustly spend 6 years in Cambodian prison?” 

“During the seven-day criminal trial that ended on August 31, no evidence was produced that demonstrated Ricketson had committed espionage…. Australia has yet to condemn a prosecution widely seen as a politically motivated attempt by the Cambodian Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to silence independent journalists in the country ahead of the discredited election on July 29.” 



Voice of America (VOA): “Indonesian Groups Call for Minority Religious Protections” 

“Interfaith and human rights groups gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, this past week to show their support for Meiliana, an Indonesian Buddhist who was sentenced to 18 months prison in August for complaining about the volume of the call to prayer in the town of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra…. The case has again brought the Muslim-majority country’s controversial blasphemy laws to the fore, with religious minority groups concerned it signals further erosion of their rights amid rising Islamic conservatism.” 



The Star: “Another year for fake news Act” 

“It will now take a year for the Anti-Fake News Act, which was bulldozed through at the last Parliament sitting and gazetted days before the 14th General Election, to be done away with…. This came after the Opposition-dominated Dewan Negara did what it has threatened to do since Pakatan Harapan took over the government – it rejected the proposal to repeal the controversial Act yesterday (12 September 2018).” 

See also: 

Journos in dismay as senator questions rush to repeal” 

Malaysiakini: “Senator explains why opposition blocked Anti-Fake News Act repeal” ; “Dewan Negara rejects Anti-Fake News Act repeal” 

Malay Mail: “With historic rejection of Anti-Fake News Act repeal, Senator wants law improved” 

Mumbrella Asia: “Abolition of fake news laws delayed in Malaysia; Singapore still awaits government report” 

ARTICLE 19. “Malaysia: Senate’s rejection of bill abolishing Anti-Fake News Law a backwards step” 


Malay Mail: “Will curbs on politicians owning media target proxies too? Journalists’ group asks” 

“Press groups have raised various concerns about the government’s proposal to cap share ownership in media organisations by political parties.” 



United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR): “The Invisible Boundary – Criminal prosecutions of journalism in Myanmar” 

“…the report examines the use of a range of legal provisions to target independent journalism, including vague and overbroad laws that are inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression and are applied in a manner that falls short of the relevant standards set out in international human rights law.” 

See also: 

Reuters. “Suu Kyi defense of jailing of Reuters journalists ‘unbelievable’: Haley” 

Frontier Myanmar: “Outrage at Insein Court” ; “(Opinion) No time for patience” 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “UN Urges Myanmar to Stop Prosecuting Journalists, Citing High-profile Cases” 

BuzzFeed News: “How Myanmar Could Grant Two Jailed Reuters Reporters Amnesty” 

Al Jazeera: “The Perils of Journalism in Myanmar” 

The Guardian. “Aung San Suu Kyi on Reuters jailing: show me the miscarriage of justice” 

CNN: “Aung San Suu Kyi admits Rohingya crisis ‘could have been handled better’” 

BBC: “Aung San Suu Kyi defends verdict against Reuters journalists” 

Mizzima: ” (Opinion) Jailing of Reuters journalists ‘hammer-blow’ to Myanmar’s fragile press freedom” 

The Hill: “(Opinion) Pressure on Myanmar must continue following show trial of journalists” 


The Irrawaddy: “Activists Jailed for a Year for Protesting on Behalf of Ex-Child Soldier for Tatmadaw” 

“A court in Yangon Division’s Dagon Seikkan Township yesterday (11 September 2018) sentenced two rights activists to a year in prison for protesting on behalf of a jailed former child soldier, their lawyer said…. Ko Naung Naung and Daw Lay Lay were jailed for participating in a protest in support of Aung Ko Htwe, a former child soldier for the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) who was jailed for speaking to the media about his experiences.” 


The Irrawaddy: “Court Hears from Kachin Protesters Accused of Defaming Military” 

“Myitkyina Township Court on Thursday (6 September 2018) started hearing from three Kachin civilians charged with defamation against the Myanmar Military (or Tatmadaw)…. On May 8, Lieutenant-Colonel Myo Min Oo from the Tatmadaw’s Northern Command filed criminal defamation complaints under Article 500 of the Penal Code against three Kachin civilians, Lum Zawng, 29; Zau Jat, 41; and Nang Pu, 47, for statements they made at an April 30 press conference and at a peaceful protest they participated in on April 30 and May 1.” 


Eleven: “Lawsuits against free expression reach 54% after telecom law amendment” 

“Following the amendment to the controversial Telecommunications Law, filing a lawsuit against writings over free expression has increased to 54 percent, according to a report published by Athan, a group of activists working for freedom of expression.” 


Mizzima: “Superficial amendment leaves Broadcasting Law undemocratic, claims FEM” 

“The NGO Free Expression Myanmar (FEM) has expressed concern about a newly adopted Broadcasting Law Amendment (2018) that contains only superficial change, fails to protect freedom of expression, and reflects the government’s lack of open consultation.”  


The Irrawaddy. “Analysis: Myanmar’s Independent Media Struggling to Survive” 

“At one point in his inaugural speech in March, Myanmar’s newly elected President U Win Myint implored members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to take seriously the role of the media as ‘the eyes and ears of the people….’ However, the sector he appeared to be supporting is in bad shape…. The sad truth is that independent media in Myanmar today are struggling to survive. And the print media have been hardest hit.” 

See also: 

Information Minister Explains State Media Enterprise’s Projected 1.2bn Kyat Loss” 



BuzzFeed News: “Facebook Says This Post About A Firing Squad For A Philippine Senator Doesn’t Violate Its Rules” 

“The post — and the threatening comments it’s prompted — illustrate Facebook’s particular dilemma in emerging internet markets like the Philippines, where political discourse is polarized and contentious. It lives in a troubling gray area. It’s not quite violative of Facebook’s Community Standards. It’s not hate speech or harassment. But it’s clearly a substrate — or a dog whistle — for both. In many ways, it’s a perfect example of Facebook’s ongoing failure to balance its convenient free speech ideals with the hate, abuse, and incitement ‘at scale’ that its platform has birthed. And for the Philippines, it’s just further proof that the company was not and is not prepared for the information war it helped create.” 



Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “FCCT statement on cancellation of Myanmar programme” 

“The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is deeply disappointed by the decision of the Thai authorities to shut down a planned discussion about a hard-hitting report by the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released last month. The report recommended prosecution of Myanmar’s military leaders for alleged genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in ethnic minority areas.” 

See also: 

The Irrawaddy: “Rohingya Discussion at Foreign Correspondents’ Club Shut Down by Thai Police” 

The Straits Times. “Editorial Notes | Thai silence deafening as world condemns Myanmar: The Nation” 

Asian Correspondent. “Thailand: Police shutdown press discussion on Burma Rohingya Crisis” 

The Washington Post: “Thai police shut down journalists’ panel about Rohingya” 


Bangkok Post: “Public ‘losing say’ in the media” 

“People have little power over what the mainstream media broadcasts or publishes in an era when the social media dominates the audience’s attention, a media forum was told…. The media’s power rests not in the people’s hands, but those of investors. Social media giants also call the shots,said Prawit Leesatapornwongsa, a National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission member.” 



International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “Vietnam: Arbitrary detention and imminent deportation of Ms. Debbie Stothard” 

“The Observatory (for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders) has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and imminent deportation of Ms. Debbie Stothard, Secretary-General of FIDH and Coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)…. According to the information received, on September 9, 2018, at approximately 3:00pm, Vietnamese immigration authorities at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport barred Ms. Stothard from entering the country upon her arrival and detained her. Authorities justified the restrictions by invoking Article 21(9) of the 2014 Law On Foreigners’ Entry Into, Exit From, Transit Through and Residence in Vietnam. Article 21(9) bars individuals from entering Vietnam ‘for national defense, security or social order and safety.'” 

See also: 

Reuters: “Vietnam denies entry to human rights campaigner to attend World Economic Forum” 


Amnesty International. “Viet Nam: Amnesty International senior official refused entry amid growing intolerance of freedom of expression” 

“Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, Minar Pimple, has been refused an entry visa to speak at this week’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN event in Hanoi, further evidence of the Vietnamese government’s ongoing crackdown against freedom of expression…. Minar Pimple, who is part of Amnesty International’s senior leadership team, was due to speak on diversity and pluralism, yet has been refused permission to attend.” 



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

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