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Media outlets call on Thai government to lift restrictions on freedom of expression

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PHOTO: Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration

Thai media organisations have issued a joint statement calling on the government to lift restrictions on freedom of expression imposed under the Emergency Decree. Thai PBS World reports that the statement was issued yesterday by the National Press Council of Thailand, the News Broadcast Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Online News Providers Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, and the National Union of Journalists of Thailand.

The statement urges the government to remove restrictions being imposed on freedom of expression by both media outlets and the general public under the emergency decree. The decree was recently extended until the end of September. It has now been extended 13 times since its introduction in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

The 6 media outlets previously released a statement on July 15, in which they voiced concern about the restrictions, which have been enacted under Section 9 of the decree, ostensibly to halt the spread of what the government calls, “fake news”. The government says such reports may cause panic or misunderstanding, potentially threatening national security or public order.

The PM has responded to the media statement by ordering authorities to enforce the restrictions against all media outlets, websites, and media personalities who continue to spread “fake news”. Media organisations say the instruction is an attempt to silence both the public and the media, accusing the government of failing to communicate with the people, which they say is an example of the PM’s mismanagement.

According to Thai PBS World, the media organisations have admitted that some outlets have resorted to inaccurate reporting but insist it was not intentional and that no news was deliberately fabricated, as the government claims. They say they will continue the fight for freedom of expression until the government understands that attempting to restrict such freedoms could lead to its eventual downfall.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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