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Myanmar parliament approves controversial media bills
Publication Date : 06-03-2014
Myanmar's Parliament has approved the Printing and Publishing Enterprise Bill as well as the Media Bill on Tuesday after many months of delays and negotiation.
The Printing and Publishing Enterprise Bill was submitted by the Ministry of Information and it gives power to the government to regulate printing and publishing businesses.
The Media Bill, on the other hand, was submitted by the Myanmar Press Council and was intended as a self-regulatory framework for journalists. Months of deliberations and squabbling over various definitions have resulted in two laws which cover many of the same issues.
The Union Assembly finally agreed on defining a news agency as: “an enterprise, corporation, company, or organisation which retrieves local and foreign news and distributes them in various forms to the media with or without a fee." The Media Bill also settled on the same definition.
Parliament also approved Section 9 (a) and (b) which guarantees the right of appeal if a publications certificate of registration has been revoked or terminated by the Ministry of Information.
According to Section 10 (a) and (b), which were amended by the Upper House, a printer or publisher must not publish articles which may cause harm to ethnic groups and citizens, or which may insult races, religions, and cultures and provoke subject matters which may cause harm to national security, rule of law, community peace and tranquility, or equality, freedom, justice, and rights of every citizen.
The Union Assembly also approved Section 11, whereby a respective government department, organisation or person who suffers injury can denounce a publication as illegal if it is suspected of infringing one of the conditions of Section 10.
The respective court must immediately pass judgment on this submission.
Parliament also approved Section 12, which was amended by the Upper House, and states that the court must act in accord with the law in issuing a temporary warrant for the distribution of a publication before the court rules that it is not an illegal publication.
Article 12 of the Media Bill has divided the two houses over the past months since it was first discussed in parliament.
The Union Assembly has now approved the phrase: "The Council is the sole organisation that can act independently in accord with the provisions mentioned in this Law regarding journalists."