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Comment on Myanmar conviction of Reuters journalists

Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the conviction of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar,

Geneva, 3 September 2018


“I urge Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release Kyaw Soe Oo and Thet Oo Maung*, the two Reuters journalists who were today sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of violating the ill-defined Official Secrets Act.

Their coverage of the Inn Din massacre by the military – for which the military subsequently admitted responsibility – was clearly in the public interest as it may otherwise never have come to light. Their conviction follows a legal process that clearly breached international standards. It sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution.

I call for their conviction to be quashed and for them to be released, along with all other journalists currently in detention for their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression.”

The UN Human Rights Office will in the coming days issue a report on the worrying state of freedom of expression in Myanmar, with a number of recommendations for legal and policy reform.

ENDS

* Kyaw Soe Oo is also known as Moe Aung. Thet Oo Maung is also known as Wa Lone.

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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