East Timor leaders eye media curbs

Draft law would restrict who can be a journalist and punish ethical transgressions

Published by Al Jazeera English, Oct. 17, 2013

Rosa Garcia of the Timor Post. Photo by Wong Pei Ting

Rosa Garcia of the Timor Post. Photo by Wong Pei Ting

By Tom Benner

Dili, East Timor – Media in this young democracy in Southeast Asia suffer from a lack of professionalism, accuracy, and ethics, argue proponents of new legislation that would punish journalistic transgressions.

But critics worry that such a law, expected to be taken up by East Timor’s parliament, could impose onerous restrictions, such as spelling out who may work as a journalist, and how breaches of journalistic ethics should be addressed.

Politicians such as former prime minister Mari Alkatiri are advocates of such a system, alarming free speech advocates in the country.

“Media is a power. Every power has to have some limits,” Alkatiri said in an interview at his office in Dili, the nation’s capital.

“If the politician made a mistake, he has to respond to his mistake. If a company makes a mistake, they have to respond to the mistake. But the journalist, no. They are free to have mistakes, because they are journalists.” Continue reading …

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