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Today's court decision to sentence Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to 7 years of imprisonment undermines the freedom of the media, the public's right to information and the development of the rule of law in Myanmar.
Their sentencing and imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 for covering allegations of serious human rights violations in Rakhine State also serve to intimidate other journalists who will fear harassment and undue arrest or prosecution for merely doing their jobs.
Media freedom and critical journalism are essential pillars of democracy. A free press has a key function in promoting transparency and holding democratic governments to account.
The European Union and EU Member States diplomats were among the many international observers present at every court hearing since the journalists' arrest on 12 December 2017 and have continuously raised the matter with the Myanmar government.
We therefore reiterate our expectation that the authorities ensure adequate conditions for journalists to carry out their work. The prison sentences of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be reviewed and the two journalists be released immediately and unconditionally.