Burma (Myanmar) announced that it has dissolved the press censorship board which was officially known as Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), the state-run New Light of Myanmar said Friday. The termination of PSRD has been approved during Thursday’s cabinet meeting, the newspaper said.
“The division under the Printing and Publishing Enterprise has stopped functioning since 20 August, 2012 to pave ways for freedom of press,” according to the report. However, in place of PSRD, “Copyrights and Registration Division” will be shaped under the Information and Public Relations Department, NLM newspaper said.
One recent remarkable event occurred on 1 August last year. Ninety-two journalists from Myanmar Journalists’ Association (MJA), Myanmar Journalists’ Network (MJN) and Myanmar Journalists’ Union (MJU) held a meeting at the Royal Rose Garden in Yangon and released a press statement. A number of journalists wearing black T-shirts decorated with the catchphrase ‘STOP KILLING PRESS’ launched a demonstration in the former capital Rangoon protesting against the suspension of two journals – the Voice Weekly and the Envoy Journal.
In their press statement, the journalists declared that if the government endorsed a ‘Press Law’ without seeking advice from the stakeholders in the press, they would not accept any outcome concerning the new bill. Media watchdog groups have been urging the Burmese authorities to dump the unethical laws governing freedom of expression, especially the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act and other oppressive laws.
In a time of democratic reform, the dissolution of the censor office is not enough. The government has an obligation to amend the undemocratic clauses embedded in the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, article 505-B of the criminal code, the 1996 Television and Video Act, the 1996 Computer Science Development Act, the 2002 Wide Area Network Order and the 2004 Electronics Transactions Law. Without dumping those media oppressive laws, the press will not be free in Burma.
Burma is ranked 169th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.