MYANMAR RELEASES REUTERS REPORTERS
Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, are now free. The two Reuters reporters spent more than 500 days behind bars after they were sentenced to seven years in prison for breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. Before their arrest, the pair had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians. Throughout their imprisonment, Reuters as well as press freedom and human rights advocates campaigned for their release. They were freed May 7 as part of a presidential amnesty for 6,520 prisoners. “I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” Wa Lone told reporters as he left prison.
• Source: Reuters
“I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom”
PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE TURNS PRESS ON PRESS
Once one of Asia’s freest media, the Philippines’ independent news outlets are under sustained attack by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies, ranging from legal and political assaults to harassment by armies of online trolls.
The award winning Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Rappler and Vera Files are being singled out for particular abuse, with the clear aim of destroying them. Rappler faces 11 politically motivated legal cases, its respected editor Maria Ressa is under indictment, and its staff routinely get death threats for reporting on a government “war on drugs” that Human Rights Watch says has killed 23,000 people since 2016.
Pro Duterte columnists are now attacking the modest funding that these nonprofits receive from overseas, claiming, without evidence, that they are part of a foreign plot to oust Duterte.
• Source: Global Investivative Journalism Network
HONG KONG PUBLIC SEES PRESS FREEDOMS FALLING
Press freedom in Hong Kong has hit a six-year low among the city’s public with Beijing’s influence labelled their main concern for the first time, according to an annual public opinion survey.
More than 1,000 members of the public gave the city’s press freedom an overall score of 45, on a scale of 0 to 100 a record low since the survey, jointly released by the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Public Opinion Program of the University of Hong Kong on Tuesday, started in 2013. More than a third of respondents 368 said Beijing’s influence was their main concern, followed by media self censorship.
The survey also interviewed 535 journalists between January and February and found most were worried about self censorship, followed by Beijing’s influence. They gave the city’s press freedom in 2018 a score of 40.9, roughly the same as the previous year.Answering a question for journalists only, 112 of 516 respondents 22 percent said their superiors had applied pressure for less or zero reporting about the controversy surrounding those calling for the city’s separation from China.
• Source: South China Morning Post
SOUTH KOREAN GOV’T PARTY RETREATS FROM PRESS CRITICISM
In March, South Korea’s ruling party withdrew personal criticism of a Bloomberg News reporter for writing an article about President Moon Jae-in, after international press groups warned the remarks threatened journalistic freedom and demanded a retraction by the party.
The Democratic Party of Korea removed from a statement posted on its website language mentioning the reporter’s name and describing the Sept. 25, 2018 Bloomberg article about Moon’s North Korean policy as “almost like treason.” The move came days after journalists’ organizations said that the comments had resulted in serious threats to the reporter’s personal safety.
“Press freedom in Hong Kong has hit a six-year low with Beijing’s influence labelled their main concern.”
“We would like to apologize to foreign journalists within South Korea, if we have caused any misunderstandings,” party spokesman Lee Hae-sik said in a statement. Moon’s office reaffirmed the president’s support for press freedom and issued a statement pledging “an appropriate countermeasure” against threats to any reporter’s safety.
• Source: Bloomberg