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Asean lawmakers urge governments to protect journalists

The Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) on Friday appealed to governments in Southeast Asia to check growing attacks on press freedom and punish those responsible for killing journalists.

The lawmakers warned that a culture of impunity will result in more attacks against journalists, who play crucial roles in holding power to account and bringing information to the public, Efe news reported.

“Media is under increasing threat across Southeast Asia,” APHR member Teddy Baguilat, a Philippines lawmaker, said in a statement issued on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

“It is abhorrent that brave journalists should have to put their personal freedom or even lives on the line when they are simply trying to do their jobs,” he said.

According to the APHR, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous country for journalists with a poor record of arresting and prosecuting those responsible for killing media people.

On June 7, unidentified gunmen shot dead Dennis Donora, editor of the Trends and Times weekly, in his car in Panabo City in the Davao del Norte province.

Justice in the murders of 47 journalists, who have been killed since 2008, was still pending.

The APHR also flagged the situation in Myanmar, a country which has been widely criticized for the seven-year prison sentence given to Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, on charges of violating an archaic official secrets act while they were investigating a story on the Rohingya crisis.

The group also criticized the government of Cambodia, the military junta of Thailand and the communist regimes of Laos and Vietnam for continuing to crack down on media freedom.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) comprises of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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