RWB on emergency law and reporting

23 04 2010

Reporters Without Borders has issued a statement expressing extreme concern “about the impact on press freedom of the political violence and state of emergency in Thailand and reiterates its appeal to all parties to respect and guarantee the work of the press.” It adds that the “gravity of this crisis reinforces the need to respect the free flow of news and information, without which rumour will triumph over fact…”.

The statement refers to a Japanese cameraman injured in the Silom bombings and to foreign journalists “injured by stones and water bottles thrown by participants in political demonstrations.”

RWB “deplores the decision by the ‘Red Shirts’ to ask journalists to wear a green armband with the words ‘Dissolve parliament’…” printed on it. The organization also “condemns the harassment to which TV journalist Thapanee Letsrichai has been subjected since reporting on Twitter that some soldiers had prevented the police from going after those who may have been responsible for yesterday’s bombings.” See a video on this here.

RWB expresses surprise that courts uphold the “government’s censorship of PTV,” a red shirt station and a similar decision against “legal action brought by Chiranuch [Premchaiporn], the editor of the independent news website Prachatai, against several senior government officials demanding damages because the site has been blocked since 7 April and demanding the lifting of the blocking order on the grounds that it is illegal under article 45 of the constitution, which protects the dissemination of information and opinions. The court ruled that the authorities had not exceeded their powers under the state of emergency.” Censorship and intimidation “are affecting the Internet and the list of banned websites is growing even longer.”

RWB urged the Abhisit Vejjajiva government “to restore access to the censored websites” and to “close media only after verifying that they contain calls for violence and after following the normal judicial procedures.”

Thai authorities were also required “to show the utmost transparency in the investigation into the death [on 10 April] of Japanese journalist Hiro Muramoto, the findings of which are supposed to be released on 26 April.”



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