The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has said that journalists’ conviction in Myanmar was a message that press “cannot operate fearlessly”.
The UN human rights chief, in a statement on Monday, stressed that the legal process that led to the conviction of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar “clearly breached” international standards.
The United Nations top human rights official called for the journalists’ immediate and unconditional release.
She said that the convictions “send a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution.”
Earlier on Monday, Kyaw Soe Oo (also known as Moe Aung) and Thet Oo Maung (also known as Wa Lone) were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on charges of violating, according to the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR), the “ill-defined” Official Secrets Act.
Bachelet also said that the two journalists’ coverage of the Inn Din massacre by the military – for which the military subsequently admitted responsibility – “was clearly in the public interest as it may otherwise never have come to light.”
“I call for their conviction to be quashed and for them to be released, along with all other journalists currently in detention for their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression,” she stressed.
Bachelet assumed her functions as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on September 1, succeeding Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who held the position since September 2014.