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HomeLatest NewsKaren and Karenni issue media guidelines for war reporting

Karen and Karenni issue media guidelines for war reporting

The Karen National Union (KNU) stated on March 21 that all journalists and media operating in KNU-controlled areas must register with identification documents for security reasons. Only authorized KNU members can give official interviews and filming is prohibited without permission. Videos and photos may be inspected at any time upon request.

“We bear responsibility for both the local and foreign news agencies who arrive in our area. Every news agency must be held accountable according to the ethical standards of their respective organizations. We publish these restrictions out of necessity. We must prioritize security,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee, the KNU spokesperson. 

The Interim Executive Council (IEC) requests all journalists register upon arrival in Karenni State with a letter of recommendation from their respective media outlets. While reporting journalists must wear a uniform bearing the logo of the media outlet and carry a press card at all times. Both the KNU and the IEC stated that it will place restrictions on media who fail to adhere to these new regulations. 

“Media agencies and journalists [already] face obstacles in collecting on-the-ground information. When journalists venture into the field to report, [these] restrictions will harm the public’s right of access to information,” said Theu Boon Aung, a Myanmar journalist.

The Independent Myanmar Journalists Association (IMJA) responded directly to the new IEC media guidelines: “It is acceptable in principle that regulations are needed to ensure the safety and accountability of journalists reporting in Karenni [State]. However, we believe that the provisions outlined in the directive issued now pose a significant threat to the safety and freedom of journalists.”

The Independent Press Council Myanmar (IPCM), of which DVB is a member, stated that there was apprehension that the media directives from the KNU and IEC may actually pose a threat to the safety of journalists and freedom of the press. It went on to state that it will publish its code of conduct all Myanmar journalists must abide by on May 3 – World Press Freedom Day.

“We can address each situation responsibly and with accountability. Unfortunately, issuing restrictive letters and imposing limitations significantly curtails our ability to gather true information,” added journalist Theu Boon Aung.

Since the 2021 military coup, 15 media outlets have had their licenses revoked by the regime in Naypyidaw. Around 600 journalists have been arrested and subsequently released. More than 50 journalists remain in prison. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) states that Myanmar ranks 173 out of 180 – near the bottom – in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index.

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