The Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom stands firmly by the Al Jazeera journalists involved in the East 101 program, Locked up in Lockdown.
The Malaysian authorities’ possible charging of these journalists appears to be following an increasingly worrying trend in Malaysia in which the government targets uncomfortable journalism.
The decision to include a charge of sedition in the investigation is particularly troubling because it equates uncomfortable journalism with insurrection, which also has a very serious chilling effect on the media.
The government has not presented clear evidence of wrong-doing in the report. They have simply claimed that the report was ‘misleading’. While they are free to have a debate about the nature of journalism, criminalising it is a dangerous step that undermines democracy and democratic accountability in Malaysia, setting a damaging standard for the region.
Australia supports democracy and a rules based international order. Press freedom and the transparency it brings are essential to both.
Journalism is not a crime and to ensure we maintain healthy societies and uphold democratic values, journalists must be able to do their jobs freely and safely.