The recent prosecutions of journalists in Myanmar have had the effect of self-censorship [press release], according to a UN report [text, DOC] released Tuesday examining freedom of the press in Myanmar.
The report dissects the freedom of the press in Myanmar since the National League for Democracy (NLD) came into power and the effects it has had on journalists. According to the report the arrests have made it “impossible for journalists to do their job without fear or favor.”
The report focuses on the recent case involving two Reuters journalists who were convicted [JURIST reports] last week of violating the Myanmar state secret law. The report notes that the UN Human Rights Committee has held that “states must proceed with extreme care when drafting restrictions in the name of national security.” The report also points out that it is problematic that international journalists have been barred from conflict-affected areas that local journalists have been allowed access.
According to the report, the effect of the recent prosecutions has been to restrict the public’s right to information by denying journalists the ability to report without fear of prosecution. The UN High Commissioner advocated in the report for “redress for the human rights violations that the journalists have been subjected to through the authorities’ attempts at restricting the freedom of the press.” At the end of the report, the High Commissioner made a series of recommendations to the government of Myanmar including the release of the two Reuters journalists and to “ensure journalists who have been subject to arrests and prosecution have access to the right remedy.”