Burma’s new Media Bill is currently stalled in Parliament due to dispute over an article that defers press office search and seizure to the Code of Criminal Procedures.
Upper house MP Aung Kyi Nyunt told DVB that the bill, drafted by the Interim Press Council, was approved by the upper house but stalled upon reaching the lower house, which has requested that Article 32 be removed.
“Originally, there was an article in the bill that said media office search and confiscation of equipment must be conducted in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedures, but the clause was removed by the lower house,” he said. “It is necessary to include the article as most of the offences described in the bill are out of police jurisdiction, so it will be more suitable to follow the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
Kyaw Min Swe, Interim Press Council secretary, said the clause is important because it creates a protocol for search and seizure; without it, he contends, police could take liberties when dealing with media offences.
“[Under the procedural code] authorities must obtain a warrant to search, not only press offices but any type of business, for any type of offence,” he said. “Under the previous government, authorities searched and sealed media offices without warrant, allowing them to seize equipment without record and later sell it.
“By removing the clause, the lower house is advocating lawlessness – we would like these searches to be conducted in accordance with the law, not in the manner of robbery.”