Human rights organisations call for ‘prudent review’ of ‘fake news’ bill

18-Sep-2021 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 5:01 PM Print This Post

Human rights watchdogs in Korea and abroad have expressed concerns over the controversial “fake news” bill, saying that it could limit the voice of the media and freedom of expression.

The proposed revision to the Act on Press Arbitration intends to increase punitive damages on media outlets that have intentionally produced false information, including punitive compensation of up to five times the present levels for stories that are deemed to be deliberately false or “grossly negligent” in their reporting.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) said Friday that the media law revision includes several clauses that could undermine the media’s freedom protected by the Constitution, and asked the chair of the National Assembly to conduct a “prudent review” of the bill.

“Although the revision bill aims to strengthen the responsibility of media outlets, we cannot rule out the possibility that critical media reports or investigative reports on crimes and acts of corruption would also be subject to the punitive damage compensation, which could bring a chilling effect on media activities,” it said through a statement.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international non-governmental organisation, said Thursday that “the amendment bill of the Press Arbitration Law’s vague language and disproportionate damages against media outlets could limit a wide range of expression, including critical news reporting and coverage of unpopular or minority opinions.”

“Unless the consultative committee significantly revises the bill before it reaches the National Assembly, the legislators should reject it outright,” Lina Yoon, a senior researcher at HRW was quoted as saying through the statement.

The HRW, along with three other civil society organisations have sent letters to President Moon Jae-in and National Assembly members, calling for a revision of the bill.

In response, an official at Cheong Wa Dae said Friday, “As freedom of speech and protection of victims (of fake news) are both equally important values, we hope to establish a public consensus.”

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2021/09/356_315735.html

 

Category: Korea

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