Amnesty deplores 'criminalisation' of journalists

Modified 20 Nov 2016, 12:56 am

Amnesty International Malaysia has warned of an escalating attack on press freedom in Malaysia.

The most recent, it said, was the charging of Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan for a video of a press conference uploaded by sister company KiniTV.

"The act of charging members of the press in the course of their duties, while acting as a check and balance to the Malaysian government, sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom," said Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu.

Yesterday, KiniTV was charged under Section 233(1)(a) for improper use of network facilities or services with intention to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.

Gan was charged under Section 244(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) which held him responsible as a director of KiniTV.

The charges were over a video publication of a press conference by former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan who was critical of attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Shamini noted the latest action followed the blocking of whistleblower portal Sarawak Report and news portal The Malaysian Insider.

"In recent months, there has been a significant increase in the use of Section 233 of the CMA to crack down on dissent in the digital realm and on social media. It has become more evident that the authorities have turned their attention to policing the internet.

"According to a survey carried out by Freedom House, an independent watchdog dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, Malaysia has deteriorated in its press freedom ranking for 2016, dropping two spots down from 2015," she said.

Shamini said this decline reflected the difficult environment journalists in Malaysia need to operate in.

"Malaysian journalists continue to face reprisals and restrictions in the course of their work. Harassment against the media must stop. The government must end its criminalisation of media personnel who are merely exercising their duty as journalists.

She urged the Malaysian government to create an environment that protects media freedom and end all reprisals against journalists.

Let me tell you about Steven Gan

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