A legal analysis of the cases of five Burmese video-journalists, who remain in prison despite the release of some 200 political prisoners by the Burmese government, discloses flagrant breaches of human rights. The Note, by the Centre for Law and Democracy, found widespread abuses of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom from torture. The violations result from both the Burmese government’s abusive application of laws that restrict freedom of expression, and their capricious application of broader legislation to target political opponents.
“Amid the news coverage of Burma’s amnesty for a limited number of political prisoners, it is important to remember that thousands of prisoners of conscience continue to languish in Burmese prisons”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. “The five cases we have analysed are a small but representative sample of wider abuses of human rights in Burma.”
The five journalists were targeted largely because of their association with the Democratic Voice of Burma, which reports that 13 of its journalists are currently being detained in Burma. The five journalists were sentenced to between 8 and 27 years for carrying out ordinary journalistic activities which posed no threat to any legitimate interests.
The Centre for Law and Democracy calls on the government of Burma to release these prisoners, as well as all others that have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. We also call on other States to pressure the Burmese government to respect its obligations under international law.