The European Union Delegation in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Myanmar issues the following statement:
Today marks the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day, an opportunity to reflect on the indispensable role of free, diverse and independent media in any democratic society. Without freedom of expression and free media, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible. As such, the EU and its Member States take this opportunity to highlight their continued support for press freedom in Myanmar and the important role a free press has in Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition.
It is also an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the internationally-recognised work of Myanmar’s journalists, who have reported bravely on the many issues facing Myanmar. They report not only on challenging issues, but in a challenging environment. We remain deeply concerned about the continued detention and legal process against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists who were arrested whilst researching human rights violations in Rakhine State. We reiterate our call for their immediate release.
There is a worrying trend of an overall shrinking space for free media in Myanmar. Reform of the country's legislative framework is needed in order to meet international standards of legal protection for journalists, whilst adverse action by the government against journalists, such as Schuman Awardee Swe Win from Myanmar Now, who are trying to shed light on important developments in Myanmar, must end.
This year’s global theme ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’ shines a light on important issues such as the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, the accountability of state institutions towards the public, and contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. These are topical issues for many countries across the world, including in Myanmar. We look forward to engaging with journalists, media actors, civil society and government as they discuss these important issues.