Burma Government Sues Newspaper for Defamation

Posted September 20th, 2012 at 6:30 am (UTC-5)
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A private newspaper in Burma has been charged with defamation by a government ministry for publishing a story on official corruption, raising fresh concerns about the effectiveness of recent media reforms.

A Rangoon court said Thursday it has agreed to accept the mining ministry's lawsuit against The Voice Weekly, a Burmese-language paper that focuses on political issues.

In March, the paper reported that Burma's auditor-general had uncovered corruption and misuse of funds in several government ministries, including the mining ministry.

The case, which will come to trial on October 5, comes amid recent government attempts to loosen decades-old restrictions on freedom of speech. In August, the government said media outlets would no longer have to submit material for state censorship before publication.

The move was seen as a key step in relaxing what have been some of the toughest media censorship laws in the world. But critics say despite the move, journalists are still required to submit articles for review after publication. And others say that journalists still face prosecution for reporting on government corruption or other sensitive topics.