quarta-feira, 7 de maio de 2014

East Timor passes tough laws to muzzle media

Photo, Ted McDonnell

Ted McDonnell - The Australian - May 07, 2014 

THE East Timorese parliament has passed legislation that will restrict journalists. 

The controversial media laws will restrict those it classifies as a journalist and potentially prevent foreigners from entering East Timor to report on news the government dislikes. A foreign journalist will now need to seek advance permission from the government to enter the country. 

East Timor media laws, considered some of the most restrictive in the world, has created a Press Council answerable to parliament. The Press Council will be made up of three senior journalists and two citizens ¬chosen by National Parliament, potentially parliamentarians. 

The new Press Council can impose fines and jail journalists who are deemed to have broken the media laws. 

Jose Belo, publisher and editor of Tempo Semanal, said yesterday was the last day that East Timor could be considered democratic. 

“East Timor journalists have lost their freedom of speech, as have the people of East Timor,” Mr Belo said. 

“This law has been devised by the Prime Minister, (Xanana) Gusmao, and his government to protect itself from media scrutiny and scrutiny of the people. It is against our constitution.” 

Mr Belo said he would refuse to submit his name as a journalist to the Press Council. 

“They can throw me in jail again, but I will not be controlled by this government or a politicised Press Council,” he said. 

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