UN says Myanmar waging ‘campaign against journalists’

Myanmar, facing international outrage over the jailing of Reuters journalists for their reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, is conducting a “political campaign” against independent journalism, the UN said Tuesday.

A fresh report from the UN rights office decried “the instrumentalisation of the law and of the courts by the government and military in what constitutes a political campaign against independent journalism”. It slammed the “failure of the judiciary to uphold the fair trial rights of those targeted”.

The rights office pointed to the “particularly outrageous” and high-profile example of the conviction of Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, also known as Thet Oo Maung.

Last week, a judge jailed the two — both Myanmar nationals — for seven years under a draconian state secrets act over their reporting of the Rohingya crisis.

Around 700,000 of the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority were driven into Bangladesh by a Myanmar army-led crackdown in August last year. The UN report said there were many other examples of detentions and prosecutions of journalists and their sources, indicating “wider trends of suppression of freedom of expression”. According to the report, laws on telecommunications, official secrets, unlawful association, electronic transactions, import-export and aircraft have been used against journalists in a number of cases.

Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.