The UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, delivered this statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner’s oral update on Myanmar.
Thank you, Madame President.
Thank you High Commissioner for your update and for your continued efforts as you fulfil your mandate.
The United Kingdom continues to condemn the military coup in Myanmar, and I reiterate today our call on the military to respect the human rights of the people of Myanmar and their democratic wishes.
The coup has had a detrimental impact on freedom of speech. Over 80 journalists have been arrested and many others forced into de facto exile. In many cases, there has been little or no information about their whereabouts, nor have they been provided access to lawyers. This is a clear attack on the rule of law and basic freedoms.
Despite the many risks, independent media in Myanmar continue to play an essential role in exposing the actions of the Junta. Journalism is not a crime. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained and call on the international community to continue to support independent media. In a crisis such as this, where the military regime seeks a monopoly of information, the role of the media is vital in combating propaganda, and keeping alive the spirit of democracy. Supporting these platforms and the verified stories they share is a duty for all of us.
What can the international community do to ensure that journalists are allowed to carry out their job without fear or threat of violence?