22 May 2013

Public consultation on Draft Law On Social Communications

ETLJB  22 May 2013 - The Dili Weekly reports on a seminar entitled "Regulation of Social Communications and Building a Culture of Responsibility" conducted by the Government on the draft Law on Social Communications.

TDW reports that according to the Secretary of State for Social Communication (SEKOMS), Nelio Isaac, after gathering ideas from participants at the international seminar on the draft, the draft needs more articles added to it.

He considered the criticisms and suggestions from the participants over the three days (20-23 March) to be very constructive to develop the draft law.

“There were a lot of ideas so I think that after the seminar we will probably add some articles in the draft according to necessity,” the Secretary is reported to have said.

Even though in the Republic of Timor-Leste Constitution Articles 40 and 41 guarantees freedom of the press and of expression, according to the Secretary of State the draft law is very important for journalists to become more professional and more responsible.

That’s why the President of the Association of Journalists Timor-Lorosa’e (AJTL) Tito Filipe said there were still a lot of weaknesses in the draft law and that is why they should not rush to present the draft to the Council of Ministers and National Parliament.

“We require a discussion and consultation with the competent entities to fix this so it will not impact adversely on journalists in the future,” said the AJTL President.

As a journalist, he thanked the efforts of Team V that drafted the law but said the draft law is too general and that’s why they disagreed with some of its provisions.

“We want a thorough discussion. That is why today we will provide an opportunity for journalists to input ideas and not have a discussion closed and only for advisers because this law will be applied in the interest of the media not the advisers,” said the President of AJTL.

The Secretary of State said the door of SEKOMS was open and ready to give support to journalist associations to discuss the draft law because there is still time to discuss and intervene from journalists as the draft is very important.

“I don’t want to rush without quality, slowly but with quality. There is still time after the seminar so we can elaborate on this and I think that in May at least we can present it to the Council of Ministers to make a decision on the final draft before submitting it to the parliament,” said Secretary of State Issac.

According to observations during the discussion there was a lot of criticism from journalist associations and journalists because the law regulated the rights and obligations of journalists.

Article 8 of the draft law was criticised a lot by journalists from Radio and Television Timor-Leste (RTTL) because this article forbids journalists from becoming public servants while they work as journalists. Editorial Chief of TVTL Paulino Quintas suggested that the draft be amended to provide for an exemption to journalists from RTTL. Source: The Dili Weekly 30/04/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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