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Myanmar solons push for press bill amendments
Publication Date : 21-08-2013
A committee of Myanmar's Upper House of parliament has said in a report that whole sections of the controversial Printing and Publishing Enterprise Bill, approved by the Lower House in July, need to be cancelled and amended. They were discussing the bill during a parliamentary session in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday.
One of the points in the press bill they would like to be deleted is Article 2, which entrusts a government officer with the power to allow news publications or to revoke news publications. The press council had earlier argued against this clause as it would only bring back earlier forms of censorship where one official had complete control over what got published.
Regarding the amendments, the report suggests that Article 3 should be amended to say: "Those who would like to engage with the printing and publishing industry must apply for their registration with the right documents to the information ministry, instead of the registration officer as previously said in the press bill," the report said.
Moreover, the report recommends that Article 7 should be amended to say: "A printer or a publisher must not publish the publications if they provoke conditions for the purpose of deteriorating national security, the rule of law, community peace or equality, freedom, justice and rights of every citizens."
According to the report, Article 7 also recommends that publications should be banned if they encourage crimes against existing laws or those which are harmful to the understanding and relations with other countries.
As prescribed in Articles 20 and 21, hefty penalties of up to 10 million kyats (US$10,300) or a minimum six months prison sentence for printing, publishing or distributing without a certificate of registration should be reduced to 2 and 5 million kyat fines.
The report finally states that the Upper House of parliament needs to approve the press bill because the information ministry and the interim press council have reached agreement on their amendments.
The press council proposed amendments to the press bill when it was released. However, most of the amendments agreed between the ministry and the council were not implemented when the bill was approved by the Lower House.