Myanmar: UN experts gravely concerned by court charges against Reuters journalists

Reporting agency: UN Human Rights Council
Published on 11 Jul 2018

GENEVA (11 July 2018) – UN human rights experts* expressed grave concern after a court in Myanmar officially charged two Reuters journalists under the 1923 Official Secrets Act in connection with their investigations into a massacre at Inn Din village, Rakhine State.

“We strongly reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and that all charges be dropped,” they said. “The prosecution criminalises investigative journalism reporting on human rights violations in the Rakhine State, issues of the highest public interest.”

The two reporters, who were arrested last December, were charged on Monday with obtaining secret state documents. The Official Secrets Act carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

The Special Rapporteurs [previously have urged greater press freedom] (https://reliefweb.int/node/2387524) after the journalists’ detention and called on the Government of Myanmar to drop the prosecution charges “We are also deeply troubled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are held in deplorable conditions – incommunicado at the outset of their detention, and now lack access to medical treatment and sleep deprivation.”

The UN experts urged Myanmar to respect press freedom and the public’s right to know, so that journalists can carry out their duties freely and safely. They also called for the review and ultimate revision of the Official Secrets Act in line with Myanmar’s obligations under international law.

The Special Rapporteurs will continue to be in contact with the Myanmar authorities concerning the case.

ENDS

**The UN experts: Ms. Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmarhttps://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx and Mr. David Kaye*, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionhttps://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedureshttps://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact: Ms. Marina Narvaez (+41-22917 9615/mnarvaez@ohchr.org) or Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

*This year 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 70th anniversary 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* https://www.standup4humanrights.org/

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