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MEDIA MAY BE CHARGED FOR DISOBEYING GOVERNMENT, WARNS NEW ADVISORY

Journalists in the Philippines are outraged over a new media advisory threatening them with criminal charges if they "disobey orders" during emergencies, report the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).

The Department of Justice sent an advisory to the heads of all major media companies and press organisations last Friday reminding them that they may face "criminal liabilities" if any of their journalists or media workers "disobey lawful orders from duly authorised government officers and personnel during emergencies."

According to SEAPA, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) denounced the advisory as "dangerous" and "perilously broad and vague."

NUJP says the guidelines are a "direct threat to journalists covering emergencies and other incidents that the public need to know about."

SEAPA says the guidelines are believed to be part of the government's crackdown on press coverage of coup attempts. In November 2007, police arrested more than 30 journalists who were reporting on an attempted uprising by rebel army soldiers in Manila. A week later, a government official warned the media they could be arrested again if they defied police orders while covering similar events.

Visit these links:
- CMFR: http://tinyurl.com/2gk8un
- SEAPA: http://www.ifex.org/fr/content/view/full/89518/
- NUJP: http://www.nujp.org/pr/pr07/prjan12-doj.html
(15 January 2008)

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