Myanmar's draft of new press law draws concerns
Legislation to regulate Myanmar media threatens to undermine freedoms recently gained in the reforming county, a New York-based journalists' group warned Saturday."If passed in its current form, the draft law will essentially replace Burma’s (Myanmar’s) old censorship regime with a similarly repressive new one," Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Jornalists, said.
According to state media, the bill proposes to ban reporting on topics such as criticism of the military-drafted 2008 constitution, and prohibits publication of any news that could "disturb the rule of law," "incite unrest," or "violate the constitution and other existing laws."
A six-month jail term will be imposed on owners of publications that fail to register with the government.
"Banning news topics and legalizing the jailing of journalists is utterly inconsistent with the press freedom guarantees that authorities vowed the new law would promote," Crispin said.
The parliament is dominated by the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party, and 25 per cent of the seats are military appointees.
Myanmar has witnessed significant reforms since President Thein Sein came to power in 2011, including the end of pre-publication censorship and a decision to allow new daily newspapers to publish.//DPA