Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Burma: Pre-publication censorship ended for all newspapers

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 20 August 2012
Cite as Article 19, Burma: Pre-publication censorship ended for all newspapers, 20 August 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5057145e2.html [accessed 18 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes today's announcement by the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department that the requirement for the press to submit articles to the government for approval before publishing has ended.

"Ending the requirement for pre-publication approval is a welcome step. Until now, even after Burmese editors self-censored their political content, the censorship board deleted and redacted over 25 per cent of submitted articles. They did so on the basis of perceived hidden messages which they found in things as vague as the colours used in imagery," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. 

"This is good start to ending censorship in the Burmese media, but our concern is that no laws have yet been changed. Over the last few months, several private journals have been banned, journalists have been charged with criminal defamation, and without legal changes, they are increasingly taking large risks in a country that still retains several hundred political prisoners," she added.

Journalists will still have to provide their articles to the censorship board after they have been published, retaining the threat that the government could punish them if they find the content to contradict Burma's many vague laws controlling what can and cannot be published.

The relaxation of censorship rules comes as several new independent journalists' unions have begun to protest regularly on the streets of the country's largest city, Yangon. Pre-publication approval was ended in 2011 for articles on the arts, culture and sport, but approval had been retained for current affairs stories until today. Private daily newspapers are still unable to gain licences to print.

The government also announced in January 2012 the creation of a new media law to be put before parliament by July. The law, which is reportedly in its sixth draft, has not yet been made public and the Ministry of Information is now stating that it will go before parliament by the end of the year. 

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