150 face lawsuits under Telecommunications Law

EMG reporter

There have been 150 lawsuits filed under the Telecommunications Law with 48 more after the amendment to it, according to a report issued by journalism rights group Athan.

After the amendment, no cases have been found in which a third party files a suit for any derogatory remark about State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Of those legal cases, there are 19 cases in which lawsuits have been lodged against journalists, while 27 other journalists face trial.

Under the previous government, there were 11 cases. Under the National League for Democracy government, there were 91 cases before the law amendment, and there have been 48 more after the amendment.

Among the cases after the amendment, 17 were filed by parliamentarians and government officials.

The seven points included in the old version of the law namely extorting, defaming, disturbing, threatening, bullying, unfair opposition and power abuses were reduced to four points in the latest amended version. The four points are extorting, defaming, disturbing and threatening.

The Telecommunications Law was introduced in 2013, and it was amended on August 27, 2017.

Defamation charges under Section 66 (d) of the law have been brought against reporters, politicians, and social media users.

Civil society organisations working on press freedom formed a coalition to urge the government to abolish the Section 66 (d) as it is contrary to democracy cause.

The government, however, didn't abolish the section. Instead, only some changes occurred such as reducing some points in the provision, reducing jail sentence, increasing potential for bail and restricting cases in which a third party launches a suit, according to the report.