Journalists decry restrictions on reporting in Thailand

21-Sep-2021 Intellasia | UCANews | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A prominent association of journalists in Thailand has condemned a move by police to impose onerous demands on media professionals covering anti-government protests or face arrest.

Thai police have issued several conditions for journalists to cover street protests past a 9pm curfew, including a letter of permission obtained from police officials authorising them to report on rallies in Bangkok.

Journalists are also required to have a government-issued press card and a letter of assignment from their news agency, which can be hard to obtain for many of them, especially freelancers.

“This is an onerous set of requirements for what should be routine media work,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) said in a statement posed on its Facebook page late last week.

“It is unacceptable that journalists should face the threat of arrest and prosecution while doing their jobs, simply because they cannot meet all these bureaucratic conditions.

“The FCCT urges the police to review their rules for post-curfew reporting, and to recognise that there are genuine journalists reporting on the streets who may not be able to get all the documents they are asking for, and who should not be arrested face any criminal charges.”

In recent weeks several journalists were detained during youth-led street protests and charged with various crimes such as breaking a curfew in Bangkok that debars people from being outdoors between 9pm and 4am as part of a Covid-19 mitigation measure.

Journalists have also been roughed up and tear-gassed by riot police, who have taken a hardline stance against youth-led street protests by demonstrators calling on the military-allied government to resign after more than seven years in power.

The government, led by former army chief general Prayut Chan-o-cha, seized power in a coup in May 2014 and consolidated its hold after elections in 2019 that were rigged in favour of the ruling junta, according to numerous observers.

The frequent street protests against Prayut’s rule have received large-scale coverage in local media outlets, yet much of the coverage has been circumscribed by legal limits such as a draconian lese majeste law that prohibits journalists from airing any criticisms made in public of Thailand’s royal family.


Category: Thailand

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