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Myanmar reviews its media draft laws with assistance of UNESCO

Myanmar’s Ministry of Information in co-operation with UNESCO recently organized a review workshop in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw on the country’s first draft media laws.

“Myanmar is now transforming to a democratic society,” said U Ye Htut, Director General of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, Ministry of Information of Myanmar at the workshop. “Under these circumstances media policy is a vital issue and the concerned personnel is approaching this in a positive way. According to some extent of experience, the process of drafting the new media legislation is a hard and intricate work. But according to the constitution, this is a compulsory matter for new governance,” he said.

New draft media laws were prepared by the Ministry of Information and reviewed at a jointly organised five-day workshop. The Ministry of Information has requested UNESCO’s technical assistance in media development including capacity building in developing media laws based on good international and regional practices and accepted by all the stakeholders. 

Main elements of the new law would be the establishment of independent Press Council and a Broadcast Council, no a priori censorship, the adherence to principles of freedom of expression and the right to information, and a framework for new online media.

“Media gives a voice to change and development. Media Law is the backbone for media development. It should not obstruct but be flexible to support all movements of society so it can develop to its full potential,” said Dieter Schlenker of Information and Knowledge Management, UNESCO Bangkok.

Expecting the media law to be soon finalized, Director General U Ye Htut identified further needs in collaboration, particularly by enhancing media literacy amongst the people of Myanmar, in providing capacity development opportunities for journalists and in developing modern curricula for journalistic education in the country.