UN demands release of two Reuters journos


The United Nations has expressed disappointment over Myanmar's court decision saying two Reuters journalists should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists.
"We are disappointed by Monday's court decision," reads a statement issued by the office of UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.
A Myanmar court sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison Monday for illegal possession of official documents, a ruling met with international outrage that will add to condemnation over the military's alleged human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been reporting on the brutal crackdown on the Rohingya when they were arrested and charged with to violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. They had pleaded not guilty, contending that they were framed by police.
The United Nations has consistently called for the release of the Reuters journalists and urged the authorities to respect their right to pursue freedom of expression and information.
"A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists," said the statement.
Newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release Kyaw Soe Oo and Thet Oo Maung.
Their coverage of the Inn Din massacre by the military - for which the military subsequently admitted responsibility - was clearly in the public interest as it may otherwise never have come to light, said Bachelet.