Freedom of the Press 2011 Survey Release

Freedom of the Press 2011 identifies the greatest threats to independent media in 196 countries and territories. Released on May 2 as part of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day celebration in Washington, D.C., the report shows that global media freedom has reached a new low point, contributing to an environment in which only one in every six people live in countries with a Free press. In 2010, there were particularly worrisome trends in the Middle East and the Americas, while improvements were noted in sub-Saharan Africa. Below are several critical tools to highlight data from the annual index of global press freedom, and to help explain the newest findings in their historical context.

Press Release – Read the press release detailing findings from Freedom of the Press 2011.
2011 Charts – The charts and graphs feature global and regional breakdowns for our three categories of “Free”, “Partly Free”, and “Not Free.”

Tables – Tables featuring country rankings and numerical scores for the 2011 index.
Overview Essay – Press Freedom in 2010: Signs of Change amid Repressiongives a thorough introduction to the state of global press freedom. It details trends identified in media freedom during the 2010 calendar year and offers a snapshot of regional gains and setbacks.
Methodology – View a description of the criteria used in the ratings process forFreedom of the Press 2011.
Map of Press Freedom 2011 – Each year Freedom House produces a graphic representation of its country ratings in the form of the Map of Press Freedom.

Press freedom over time:
Historical Maps – Using data from past reports, a series of 4 historical maps graphically demonstrate trends in media freedom over the past 30 years, at decade-long intervals.

Yazar Company to seize land for liquor factory

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 20:00 KNG
Land confiscation is continuing in Kachin State, Northern Burma, as the Yazar Company, owned by Hkun Myat Kyaw, moves to seize 14.41 acres of land from local people in Maina Village, Waingmaw Township, to construct a liquor factory.

Landowners of hundreds of acres from the Maina Village plan to take action against the company for trying to take their land by force.
There was an announcement from Waingmaw Township Administration Office in November, 2010, giving notice that residents can submit objection letters to the office before December, 2010, on the proposal of the Yazar Company to develop the factory at Kyuntaw (Teak Forestd), at Maina.

The areas are surrounded by land owned by the Jade Land Company, the Aung Swe Kaba Company and a paddy field.

Land confiscation has occurred often in Kachin State, initiated by the companies owned by cronies of Burmese military generals.

One of the most significant incidents took place in the Hukawng Valley, Danai Township, in Western Kachin State. Continue reading “Yazar Company to seize land for liquor factory”

Human Rights Experts Call on ASEAN to Support an Investigation into Violations in Burma

The Vice-Chair of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Nurkholis, today called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support a UN investigation into business and human rights violations in Burma. Mr. Nurkholis made his statement as a member of the experts panel at regional civil society’s first Public Hearing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights in ASEAN held in Jakarta today.

Mr. Nurkholis’ recommendation came alongside other human rights experts’ dismay with ongoing and widespread violations in Burma. They were shocked at evidence of increased militarization in locations where multinational companies had entered into partnerships with state-owned enterprises, such as with the Shwe Gas project. Mr. Nurkholis said, “If ASEAN can’t, for whatever reason, investigate and stop these abuses, then they should at least support the UN to do it.”

The other members of the panel were Ms. Rinno Arna (Indonesian lawyer specializing in social justice and child rights), Attorney Joselito Calivoso (a legal expert on CSR and rural communities) and Mr. Jerald Joseph (Executive Director of Dignity International).

“This is an important acknowledgement of the serious crimes taking place in Burma and the need for ASEAN to endorse measures to investigate and prevent further crimes,” said Debbie Stothard, Coordinator of Altsean-Burma and a member of Burma Partnership’s working group. “ASEAN must recognize that neither Burma nor the region have the ability to investigate these crimes. A UN-led inquiry, such as a Commission of Inquiry into serious international crimes, would be a step towards fulfilling the principles of justice and human rights laid out in ASEAN’s Charter.”

The panel heard testimonies by people from communities affected by corporations’ exploitative projects in Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Burma-specific testimonials included issues of forced labour and land confiscation associated with the Shwe Gas pipeline, and the case of human rights defender Charles Hector’s efforts to protect the rights of migrant workers from Burma in Malaysia.

“The Shwe Gas pipeline is a perfect example of how Burma’s military regime places profits before the protection of the human rights of its citizens. There is no evidence that this will change any time soon,” said Wong Aung, International Coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement, who spoke at the public hearing today.

The public hearing was organized by SAPA thematic task forces, as well as Altsean-Burma, Asia Indigenous People Pact, Burma Partnership, Focus on the Global South, FORUM-ASIA, IESR, JATAM, KontraS, Migrant Forum in Asia, SEACA, TERRA, Thai-ASEAN Watch, WALHI and YLBHI.

An interview with a Burmese lawyer taken by the Asian human Rights Commission

(1)The lower house Senators swore on 30 March 2011 to maintain sovereignty as their priority. Do you think that as a result of this declaration they can practice as an independent judiciary?

To practice as an independent judiciary, the administrative, legislative and judiciary divisions need to be separated first. The Administrative authority should not be involved in or interfere in the workings of the judiciary. Otherwise it cannot be free. The current government should avoid getting involved in the judiciary as they swore to maintain sovereignty. And the priority should be to create a peaceful, just and developed society. Only then will there be an independent judiciary.

(2) For the judiciary and the rule of law to be trusted by the people, what do you think needs to be done?

First of all, judges should judge independently. Secondly, the government should be one which represents all the people. To build a judicial pillar that endures, judges, public prosecutors and lawyer need to cooperate and work together. On the other hand, people should be made aware of the laws and government should educate them so that they can use them wisely. The judicial pillar should be clean, that is free from corruption .There is a saying “you cannot carry justice with a dirty hand.” In order to clean out corruption, staff within the pillar of jurisdiction, have to have a secure life, a proper salary and a decent standard of living. In order for there to be a balance within the rule of law, the administrative, legislative and judiciary components should go forward together in equal rhythm.

(3) Do you think habeas corpus can afford effective protection against the violations of human rights?

Habeas corpus exists already in our Criminal Procedure and the 2008 Constitution recognizes this. If we use habeas corpus effectively, it is a very good vehicle which can promote and protect human rights and ensure that justice is done. But I doubt that in the 2008 Constitution, in a military tribunal, the chief of military defense can judge and render a final decision in cases of military and military affairs. According to the 2008 Constitution, the Supreme Court cannot decide in cases of military affairs. That is why we have to observe and see whether the Supreme Court can really practice habeas corpus.

(4) How can the new government solve the problem where military families and business companies occupy the lands belonging to farmers? These lands are occupied in order to extend the power and influence of the military and to continue the use of forced labor.

In order to render a fair judgment, the judge should try to be free from four biases. Partiality (the bias of wish), meaning affection or love for anyone that affects a judgment in their favor. The biases of anger fear or ignorance in which cases the judge should refrain from handing down a decision.

(5) What do you think of the following scenarios? Cases in which the authorities are involved, cases where the people make a complaint to the court, cases where the court transfers the matter to the police to investigate who do not reach the stage in which any action is taken.

According to Criminal Procedure, after the police investigate, they have to report to the public prosecutors. Through this procedure, they report to the court. The court should judge in accordance with the law through a public trial. If they do not, lawyers and legal experts should make this situation known to the people concerned. The Supreme Court should watch carefully these kinds of cases so that there will be a judiciary in which the general public can believe. If the lower courts put forth decisions that are not fair, the Supreme Court should use Habeas Corpus to correct these cases.

The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Thailand:”PRESS FREEDOM NOT FREE”Freedom House on World Press Freedom Day

Tue, 03/05/2011 – 12:22 | by prachatai

Lisa Gardner

In 2010, Thailand experienced a fifth consecutive yearly decline in press freedom, moving from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free’ in terms of press freedom, according to Freedom House.

In their annual report ‘Freedom of the Press 2011’ marking World Press Freedom Day, the US-based think-tank wrote that “the number of people worldwide with access to free and independent media declined to its lowest level in over a decade.”

“A country where journalists cannot report freely without fear of interference, by the government or other actors, has little hope of achieving or maintaining true democracy,” wrote David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. “While we have unfortunately come to expect restrictive and dangerous environments for journalists in nondemocratic regimes like those in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, we are particularly troubled this year by declines in young or faltering democracies like Mexico, Hungary, and Thailand.”

Thailand followed global and regional trends towards a steady deterioration in media freedom. Continue reading “Thailand:”PRESS FREEDOM NOT FREE”Freedom House on World Press Freedom Day”