Criminal Law

'Justice System is regressing’: Court rejects Appeal by Reuters Reporters

Date: 11 January 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: Myanmar Times

Myanmar’s High Court has ruled to keep the two Reuters journalists in jail today, confirming their conviction and seven-year sentences of imprisonment on charges of breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Calling the earlier sentences “a suitable punishment”, High Court Judge Aung Naing placed the burden of proof on 32-year-old Wa Lone and 28-year-old Kyaw Soe Oo, demanding them to provide sufficient evidence to prove their innocence.

For former Dutch diplomat Laetitia van den Assum, a member of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission, the appeal rejection is “a travesty of justice”. She said “it is ever more difficult to understand what Myanmar’s leaders mean when they openly commit themselves to the rule of law and the importance of human rights.”

“Does the leadership understand the implications? This is not merely about one high-profile case. A dependable justice system is a critical cornerstone of any democracy and certainly of one in transition, like Myanmar.

“Today’s verdict sends a strong message to all those inside and outside Myanmar who are interested in investing in its future, that the justice system is regressing and cannot check the power of the other branches of government,” she commented.

Similarly, the European Union’s foreign affairs spokesperson said throwing off the appeal is “a missed opportunity to right a wrong”, and “another setback to media freedom, the public's right to information and the rule of law in Myanmar.”

“We now appeal to the president [U Win Myint] that he considers correcting this injustice that has been made,” said Kristian Schmidt, EU Ambassador to Myanmar, outside the courtroom.

A statement released by Reuters editor-in-chief criticised the ruling “as yet another injustice among many inflicted upon Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Whether the two journalists will file an appeal to the Supreme Court depends on further discussions with the journalists and their families, defence lawyer U Than Zaw Aung said immediately after the ruling. To make another appeal, they must file the case within 60 days.

The lower court in September 2018 handed down the verdict for the two young journalists. The decision led to an international backlash and widespread doubts on Myanmar judicial independence, press freedom and democratic transition. A Singapore think tank said last year that the jailing merits the attention of the business community.

In the Democracy Index 2018 published by The Economist, the jailing was cited as a “dampener” for the democratic progress in Asia. Though the authorities have repeatedly claimed that the verdict had nothing to do with their work, many see the imprisonment as a response to their coverage on the atrocities committed by the military in northern Rakhine.

“Myanmar's courts continue to disappoint on everything from lack of independence from the military and government to inability to effectively reason and rule based on obvious evidence,” said Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch. “The appeals court process looks like it was just a re-run of the previous injustice done to these two reporters who dared investigate what the military wanted to keep hidden.”

In a statement, Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s director of crisis response, also blasted the court decision as playing “in the hands of the Myanmar authorities’ attempt to hide the truth about the atrocities committed in Rakhine.”

Notice: The Publishers of Asean LIP acknowledge the permission granted by the relevant official/ original source for the reproduction of the above/ attached materials. You shall not reproduce the above/ attached materials in whole or in part without the prior written consent of the Publishers and/or the original/ official source. Neither the Publishers nor the official/ original source will be liable for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage caused directly, indirectly or incidentally to errors in or omissions from the above/ attached materials. The Publishers and the official/ original source also disclaim and exclude all liabilities in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in reliance upon the whole or any part of the above/attached materials. The access to, and the use of, Asean LIP and contents herein are subject to the Terms of Use.

Get ASEAN LAW ALERT

Legal updates by e-mail. It's Free.

INDUSTRY UPDATES

SC, DOJ Buildings declared Safe

MANILA, Apr 24 (PNA) - Work resumed at the Supreme Court (SC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, after the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that shook parts of Luzon including Metro Manila last Monday.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

SC asked to allow Poll Watchers to take Photos

MANILA, Apr 24 (PNA) - Various individuals and groups asked the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the ban imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on digital photo taking by watchers of candidates in the May 13 mid-term polls.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Makati Court hears Drug Case vs Ex-NBI Exec

MANILA, Apr 24 (PNA) - A prosecution witness positively identified the former acting regional director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Mindanao as the owner of a 1,000-square meter lot in Virac, Catanduanes, where a shabu laboratory was uncovered three years ago.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Mobile Application on Labour Market Information Launched

PUTRAJAYA, Apr 23 (Bernama) - Information on Malaysia's labour market is now available at the fingertips with the launch of a new mobile application, Labour Market Information Gateway or LMI Gateway today.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Former Lawyer Pleads not Guilty to CBT Over Client's House Sale Proceeds

KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 23 (Bernama) - A former lawyer pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court here today to a charge of criminal breach of trust amounting to RM338,000 which was the proceeds from the sale of a house belonging to his client three years ago.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Manila Court orders Arrest of Acierto, Seven Others

MANILA, Apr 23 (PNA) - A Manila court has ordered the arrest of former police official Eduardo Acierto and seven others implicated in the smuggling of shabu shipments inside magnetic lifters last year.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

SC orders Inspection of Court Houses in Quake-Affected Areas

MANILA, Apr 23 (PNA) - Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Tuesday ordered an inspection of all court houses in areas affected by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that hit Luzon on Monday afternoon.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Cybersecurity Challenge should be viewed as an Opportunity - Gobind

CYBERJAYA, Apr 23 (Bernama) - A national innovation ecosystem needs to be developed to transform cybersecurity challenges towards forming new opportunities, ideas and solutions, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said today.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Malaysia signs ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement

KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 23 (Bernama) - Malaysia has signed the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) and the Fourth Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA).

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Former Lawyer charged with Criminal Breach of Trust

SEREMBAN, Apr 23 (Bernama) - A former lawyer pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here today to criminal breach of trust involving RM198,592.50, nine years ago.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

PCC seeks Own Probe on Luzon Power Outages

MANILA, Apr 22 (PNA) - The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) announced that it will investigate allegations of collusion or abuse of dominance among energy companies that led to the recent series of power outages in Luzon.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Right to Freedom of Religion guaranteed under Federal Constitution

KOTA BELUD, Apr 21 (Bernama) - The right to freedom of religion of every Malaysian is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution, said Sabah Rural Development Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Sabah and Sarawak High Court Registrar's Office to move to Kota Kinabalu

SANDAKAN, Apr 21 (Bernama) -- Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong today confirmed that the Office of the Registrar of the Sabah and Sarawak High Court will be relocated from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Government awaits Approval from Malay Rulers on New Chief Justice - Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Apri 19 (Bernama) - The government is awaiting approval from the Malay Rulers for the appointment of a new Chief Justice, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Read More

INDUSTRY UPDATES

Double Pay for Workers on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday

MANILA, Apr 17 (PNA) - Workers who will report to work on April 18 and 19 will receive twice their regular daily wages as both days have been declared regular holidays, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday.

Read More