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Why Human Rights Advocates are Opposed to East Timor's Draft Media Law

Various human rights groups, journalists, and scholars have signed a letter opposing East Timor's proposed media law which was recently approved by the Parliament. One of the issues they cited is the broad powers given to the Press Council:

…we are concerned that the Press Council with legal authority, funding and members chosen by political officials and commercial media, should not have the power (under Articles 43 and 44) to prevent anyone from exercising his or her freedom of expression.

They added that the ‘defective law’ is not the solution to the problems besetting the media sector:

We believe that there is no urgency for Timor-Leste to create a press law, especially a defective one like this, which will reverse our society’s advances toward using social and other media to exchange ideas without limitation. We recognize that journalists’ capacity, misinformation and lack of experience sometimes make people unhappy with published articles, but state regulation is not the solution.

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