The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South East Asia Journalists Unions (SEAJU) strongly criticizes the charges filed against 17 journalists in Myanmar by the government. The IFJ calls on the government to immediately drop the charges against the 17 journalists and expresses strong concern for the deterioration of press freedom in Myanmar in recent months.
Earlier this week, 17 journalists from Eleven Media Groupwere charged with contempt for its news coverage of the trial of five senior members of the same media organization. The Ministry of Information filed the charges against the journalists arguing that the newspaper was unfairly insisting on the innocence of its staff in the case and putting undue pressure of the court. According to Eleven Media Group, the charges which were filed in the Mandalay Regional Court related to a story published on the cover of TheDaily Eleven newspaper on March 21, 2015.
In 2014, the Ministry of Information charged five senior members of Eleven Media Group with defamation after they reported of possible corruption within the Ministry. The corruption allegations related to the purchasing of a printing press by the Ministry.
SEAJU said: “These charges highlight the challenges that journalists and media workers in Myanmar face in simply doing their jobs. In the past year journalists across Myanmar have faced the constant threat of legal action from the government as they continue to clamp down on press freedom. Immediate action needs to be taken to ensure press freedom in guaranteed and respected.”
The IFJ said: “We join SEAJU in strongly criticizing the charges against the journalists and call for the charges to be immediately dropped. Press freedom in Myanmar is an important component of the country’s democracy and needs to be supported by the government not attacked.”
The recent developments come just weeks after Amnesty International released Caught between state censorship and self-censorship: Prosecution and intimidation of media workers in Myanmar which explores the current environment facing media workers. The briefing also highlights the intensifying restrictions on the media in Myanmar and the increasing use of threats, intimidation, harassment and imprisonment of journalists to stifle press freedom.
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