Ongoing imprisonment of Reuters journalists condemned, as their conviction is upheld

Press release

(Bangkok, Paris) FIDH and its member organization Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) condemn today’s decision by the High Court to uphold the prison sentences of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and reiterate the call for their immediate and unconditional release.

At approximately 13:30pm, the High Court in Yangon upheld the seven-year sentences handed down to the two Reuters journalists on 3 September 2018. Their conviction on charges under Article 3.1(c) of the British colonial-era 1923 Official Secrets Act stems from allegations that the two had collected and obtained secret documents detailing the movements of security forces with the intention to harm national security.

“This is the latest chapter in a judicial charade to justify the unjust incarceration of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. This case is emblematic of the worsening repression of the right to freedom of expression and information under a purportedly civilian-led government. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo must be freed immediately and unconditionally. Every additional day of their detention is another day that exposes the government’s failure to protect fundamental rights.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General and ALTSEAN-Burma Coordinator

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been arbitrarily detained since 12 December 2017, when police arrested them on suspicion of violating the 1923 Official Secrets Act almost immediately after meeting police officers at a restaurant in Yangon and being handed documents allegedly related to security operations in Rakhine State. At the time of their arrest, the two had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in September 2017 during military ‘clearance operations’ in Inn Din Village, Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. The two reporters remain detained in Yangon’s Insein Prison.

FIDH and ALTSEAN-Burma also reiterate their call for the Myanmar government to repeal the 1923 Official Secrets Act and other draconian laws that are not in line with international standards. The two organizations also repeat their call for the immediate and unconditional release of all of the nearly 90 other political prisoners that remain detained in prisons across Myanmar.

Press contacts
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (English, French), +33648059157 (Paris)
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
ALTSEAN-Burma: Ms. Debbie Stothard (English) - Tel: +66816861652 (Bangkok)
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