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Human Rights Report Media Excerpt On East Timor

Human Rights Report Media Excerpt On East Timor

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003 Released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor February 25, 2004

WASHINGTON (East Timor Action Network/Pacific Media Watch):


Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these rights in practice; however there were a few instances when government officials attempted to interfere with the press. For example, in August, a senior government official requested in writing that journalists working for the public broadcasting service be disciplined or criminally prosecuted because of their coverage of the eviction of a popular opposition leader (see Section 1.f.). In September, the Government notified one of Dili's two major daily newspapers that it must begin paying rent for the space it was using in a government building. UNTAET had permitted the newspaper to use the space without paying rent. After the newspaper agreed to lease the space, the Government reportedly reversed its position and issued a notice of eviction. Shortly before the issuance of this notice, a senior government official criticized publicly the newspaper's coverage of a case of alleged corruption and threatened to close the paper. At year's end, the newspaper was still waiting to hear whether the Government would offer a fair market price or follow through with the eviction. The newspaper continued to operate normally.

There are two daily newspapers, two weeklies, and several bulletin newspapers that appear sporadically. Their editorials freely criticized the Government and other political entities.

The Public Broadcast Service (PBS) owned and operated a radio station and a television station. The PBS radio service was available throughout the country. The PBS broadcast television was available only in Dili and Baucau. In addition to the PBS radio station, there were 16 additional community radio stations including at least 1 in each district. Radio is the most important news medium for most of the country.

There were no legal or administrative restrictions on Internet access.

The Government did not restrict academic freedom.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2004 Copyright - All rights reserved.

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