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Myanmar: Press Council Threatens Resignation as Lower House Fails to Amend Dire Press Bill

By Article 19  •  July 9, 2013

The Press Council has said that they will resign if the Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law bill, which ARTICLE 19 previously warned would restore prior censorship and full government control, is adopted. 

The bill was passed by Myanmar’s lower house of parliament with only minimal changes. ARTICLE 19 urges the upper house and the president not to adopt the bill without further drastic changes.

“If Myanmar is serious about democratisation, it must not adopt this bill,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

“Our analysis of the Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law bill shows that it falls far, far below international standards and if it were adopted would, in effect, retain a system of full government control over the media,” she added

“The Press Council is right to take a stand on such a vital issue to the future of Myanmar. This is the first piece of core legislation to be changed since the current government gained power, and if this is bill is adopted, we would be safe to say that this government has no intention of democratising.“

ARTICLE 19’s previous analysis of the bill identified and explained the following issues:

  1. No recognition of the right to freedom of expression
  2. Government would have strict supervision and control of the press
  3. System of requiring permission to publish is a form of prior censorship
  4. Regulation of published content is overbroad
  5. Punishment is extremely excessive (both prison sentences and fines)

The minimal changes made by the lower house of parliament on 4 July 2013 include the removal of prison sentences for journalists. However, aside from this welcome change, no other substantive issue has been touched and the bill remains very inadequate with all five of ARTICLE 19’s recommendations remaining relevant.

The Press Council announced on 9 July that they would resign if the current draft of the bill were adopted. The Press Council made recommendations to the Ministry of Information and reportedly none of those recommendations were accepted.  The Press Council have also called on the president to reject the bill as it currently stands.

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This post is in: Press Release

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