Myanmar: UN experts gravely concerned by court charges against Reuters journalists
GENEVA (11 July 2018) – UN human rights experts* expressed grave concern after a court in Myanmar officially charged two
Reuters journalists under the 1923 Official Secrets Act in connection with their investigations into a massacre at Inn
Din village, Rakhine State.
“We strongly reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and that all
charges be dropped,” they said. “The prosecution criminalises investigative journalism reporting on human rights
violations in the Rakhine State, issues of the highest public interest.”
The two reporters, who were arrested last December, were charged on Monday with obtaining secret state documents. The
Official Secrets Act carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.
The Special Rapporteurs previously have urged greater press freedom
after the journalists’ detention and called on the Government of Myanmar to drop the prosecution charges.
“We are also deeply troubled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are held in deplorable conditions - incommunicado at the
outset of their detention, and now lack access to medical treatment and sleep deprivation.”
The UN experts urged Myanmar to respect press freedom and the public’s right to know, so that journalists can carry out
their duties freely and safely. They also called for the review and ultimate revision of the Official Secrets Act in
line with Myanmar’s obligations under international law.
The Special Rapporteurs will continue to be in contact with the Myanmar authorities concerning the case.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures
of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system,
is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific
country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis;
they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or
organization and serve in their individual capacity.