The members of the International Press Institute, meeting at their 64th Annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on March 28, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling on Myanmar’s government to recommit itself to a process of full democratisation and respect for the fundamental human rights of free expression and media freedom.
Myanmar has made strides forward following the end to five decades of direct military rule in 2011, and IPI has welcomed President Thein Sein’s promises that press laws would be reformed and that the news media would be allowed to operate freely and independently.
However, progress recently has been undermined by, among other developments, the imprisonment of journalists, in some cases for lengthy terms at hard labour; by police officers’ reported arrests and beatings of journalists seeking to cover public protests; and by the unresolved October 2014 death of journalist Aung Naing while in military custody.
IPI members called on Myanmar to press forward with legal reforms to ensure the country brings itself fully into line with international standards on free expression and media freedom. This includes not only changes to media laws, but much-need changes to other laws impacting journalism, such as state security legislation and laws criminalising defamation and insult.
IPI members also urged Myanmar’s government to ensure that journalists are allowed to cover news in the public interest – including public demonstrations – without fear of violence or arbitrary detention. Further, the members called on the government to ensure that anyone responsible for violence, harassment or intimidation directed toward journalists is held accountable so that a culture of impunity for such crimes is not permitted to take hold.