DVB Multimedia Group

Reuters reporters trial: CSOs call for investigation into ‘entrapment’ claim

Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone (C) talks to reporters after his hearing in Yangon on 25 April 2018. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

A group of 163 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across Burma have banded together to call for an independent investigation into claims that police laid a trap for two Reuters journalists who are currently behind bars, charged under the Official Secrets Act.

The CSOs today sent an open letter to Burma’s new president, Win Myint, in which they said that the police policy of entrapment posed a threat to the judicial system which could erode public confidence in the rule of law. The letter called on Burma’s authorities to release the two detained reporters, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were detained on 12 December, allegedly in possession of sensitive government documents related to a military massacre in a Rohingya village. Under Burma’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, the pair could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

The CSOs also called for the release of two police officers, one of whom, Deputy Police Captain Moe Yan Naing, testified last Friday at the trial, saying that a police team had “set up” the journalists.

Moe Yan Naing and another officer, Sergeant Khin Maung Lin, were also detained on 12 December, accused of sharing secret documents with the Reuters reporters.

Speaking to DVB earlier today, Moe Thway, the chairman of CSO Generation Network, said that the government should launch an investigation into the allegations of entrapment.

“An investigation commission should be formed composed of government representatives, the attorney general, the police, MPs, and legal experts. It should be an independent commission; otherwise its outcome will not be true.”

About the trial of Reuters’ Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Moe Thway said, “This trial is over. There is no more need for testimonies. The detainees should be released immediately.”

The CSOs also urged President Win Myint to ensure the health and physical and mental security of the four detainees and their families.

Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) released a statement on 23 April calling for the detained police officers to be allowed family visits.

MNHRC commissioner Yu Lwin Aung told DVB today that the commission does not have the authority to investigate the deputy police captain’s allegations, but that they are actively monitoring the case.