Myanmar: Military drops Irrawaddy and Reuters lawsuits

Myanmar’s military withdrew two lawsuits against The Irrawaddy and Reuters News Agency on March 18, following the involvement of the Myanmar Press Council. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the outcome and urges authorities to solve all future media disputes with the media’s designated arbiter.

The Irrawaddy’s Burmese edition editor, U Ye Ni. Credit: Myo Min Soe/The Irrawaddy

In a letter to the Myanmar Press Council, the military said it filed the lawsuit against The Irrawaddy for what is said was misleading news reports which undermined the dignity and image of the military. But this week, the military agreed to drop the actions against the two media organisations and said it would develop a new relationship with the press.

The Myanmar Press Council welcomed the decision and reminded other organisations to report complaints on media coverage to the council, instead of resorting to legal action.

The military filed the lawsuit against The Irrawaddy’s news’ editor, U Ye Ni, on April 12, 2019, at Kyauktada Police Station, in Yangon. The action was based on the claim that coverageon the conflict between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) in Mrauk-U town in Rakhine State had contravened Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law.

In a separate matter, the military also filed a defamation lawsuit against Reuters for its coverage of the shelling of a Rohingya village in Rakhine State which resulted in the deaths of two women in January 2020.On March 10, the acting station head of police in Buthidaung township, Police Lieutenant Kyaw Thu, confirmed Reuters was being sued by the army under section 66D of the Telecommunications Act.

The IFJ said: “The military’s decision to drop the cases against The Irrawaddy and Reuters is welcomed. Disputes related with press coverage should be settled via Myanmar’s Press Council, not the courts.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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