The Government of Myanmar is preparing a press law which is supposed to significantly democratise regulation of the print media, an important part of its overall plans to become a democracy. In order to help ensure that the law promotes press freedom, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), working with the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), has published a report, Myanmar: Guidance for Journalists on Promoting an Empowering Press Law. The report aims to help local groups to assess whether the draft press law, once it is published, is empowering or restrictive. It is written in a simple style so as to be accessible to those who are neither lawyers nor media freedom experts.
“The Government of Myanmar has made a strong commitment to reform the current, highly repressive, system of print media regulation,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. “It is important that local groups are able to critique the draft Press Law when it is published; this report will help them participate in the process.”
The report has been distributed in English and Burmese inside Myanmar, including at a recent workshop for journalists hosted by International Media Support (IMS), for which CLD provided expertise. There is massive interest inside Myanmar, especially among journalists, about what the draft press law will say. Local observers believe the law may be presented to parliament in the next few weeks, at which time it will be made public.