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US calls for end to censorship board


Because the Burmese censorship department will still monitor the press, the US says it would like to see it  “eradicated.”

The US State Department said it welcomed Burma’s  announcement that it has abolished pre-publication censorship, but it said the government should do more.
Monday was Burma's first day for the abolishment of prior censorship. Photo: Mizzima“We welcome the announcement of the Burmese government that journalists are no longer going to need to pre-submit their articles to the ministry of information censor board,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday.

“That's positive. That said, the censor board itself has not been eradicated, which is obviously a step that we would like to see the Burmese government take because they continue to monitor the press,” she said.

Ko Ko, the vice president of the Myanmar Journalists Association, told Voice of America the end of prior censorship is a turning point for media in the country. But he also said further reforms are needed, including revision of an outdated 1962 media law that restricts reporting.

“Removal of the censorship board is a first step," Ko Ko said. "So, second thing. So, approval of new media law. But, new media law also should be in line with the international standard and democratic system.”

Observers also noted that reporters are also attacked under the guise of protecting national security.

“I’m pretty sure, you know, even without the press censorship board, you know, I think a lot of government agencies will try to control the media as well,” said Aung Thu Nyein of the Burma think tank Vahu Development Institute.

Political and religious journals – the last areas that required pre-publication checks – were allowed to go to press without previous approval starting on Monday.

Media rights groups also called on Burma to abolish the censorship board formally.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said that if the decision truly results in the end of pre-publication censorship, “it will mark an historic break with half a century of strict government control of print media content.”

But the group said there was a danger that “other, inappropriate measures will be adopted as an alternative form of post-publication censorship.”

Film censorship remained in place and television journalists will “self censor” by asking for instructions about sensitive news, a government spokesperson told Agency France Presse.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group, also called on Burma to abolish its censorship board and revise its laws, saying that otherwise its announcement on Monday “is a half-measure at best.”

“Until the Burmese government undertakes thorough reform, journalists are still at risk of censure and the free flow of information cannot be guaranteed,” said Shawn Crispin, the group's senior Southeast Asia representative.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 August 2012 18:43 )  

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