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State abolishes press censorship

Journalists say further media reforms are still needed

A man browses titles at a newsstand in Yangon A man browses titles at a newsstand in Yangon
  • Thomas Toe, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • August 20, 2012
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The Myanmar government took a significant step on its path to liberalization today, when it officially ended its policy of censoring local print media.

Officials from the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) met with journalists in Yangon to announce that they no longer need to submit articles to the state censors before publication.

In a linked move, the Ministry of Information today halted the activities of the Myanmar Core Press Council. This supervisory body was formed by the government as recently as August 9, but met with fierce opposition from the country’s press corps, who demanded wholesale changes to its constitution.

Zaw Thet Htwe, a well known figure in local media and spokesman for the Committee for Press Freedom, hailed the developments, but stressed that the Committee would keep campaigning peacefully for further meaningful reforms.

He told ucanews.com: “If we really want reform, we need to refrain from suspicion and try to develop a mutual trust between the government and the media groups. We can’t reach our goal of a democratic society if we have no trust between each other.”

Thalun Zau Htet, chief editor of Venus News journal, was one of the delegates at today’s meeting with the PSRD.

“The policy has loosened to some degree, but we still have a lot to face as the 1962 media law is still in effect,” he said.

“Editors and the chief editors will have more responsibility for the news they publish.  But all journalists will have to publish with care, as long as the 1962 media law is still in existence.” said Thalun.

It was also pointed out that, while work no longer needs to be submitted before publication, it will be reviewed by the PSRD afterwards. Also, the easing of restrictions applies only to print media; film still needs to be vetted and cleared before release.

According to a report published in May by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Myanmar is one of the 10 most heavily censored countries in the world.

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