The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and International Media Support (IMS) today released Comments on the draft Printing and Publishing Enterprises Law (draft Law) released by the Ministry of Information of Myanmar in early March 2013. In August 2012, the Ministry tasked the Interim Press Council with preparing a draft Press Law, and the release of the draft Law by the Ministry came as a surprise to many observers. As the Comments make clear, the draft Law fails in important ways to conform to international standards regarding media freedom.
“The important steps Myanmar has taken over the last year and a half to bolster respect for freedom of expression in practice now need to be anchored in a democratic legal framework,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. “The draft Printing and Publishing Enterprises Law, the first draft media law to be formally published by the government, fails to do this.”
The CLD/IMS Comments make a number of recommendations, including the following:
➢ Consideration should be given to doing away entirely with the system of registration for publishers, printers, news agencies and imported publications.
➢ If registration is retained, it should be limited in scope, not involve onerous procedures and be overseen by an independent body.
➢ Any restrictions on the content of what may be published in the media should be in line with international standards and the Ministry of Information should play no role in applying these rules.
We urge the Myanmar authorities to allow the Interim Press Council to complete its work of preparing a draft press law, and then to hold discussions on legal regulation of the print media based on that draft.