ANFREL highlights importance of media in informing the public, monitoring electoral processes to achieve free, fair and democratic elections

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) participated in a panel discussion about the weaponization of law against press freedom in Southeast Asia on 2 November 2023.

The panel discussion, hosted by the Press Freedom Monitoring in Southeast Asia coalition, was organized to commemorate the 2023 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This year the UN sought to spotlight the role of a safe and free press in ensuring the integrity of elections and democratic systems.

ANFREL senior program officer for outreach and communication and media program lead John Reiner Antiquerra said the media's roles in informing the citizenry and in monitoring the electoral process are necessary in achieving free, fair and democratic elections.

He said the threats and attacks against journalists and media workers during elections affect the people's right to know citing as one of the examples of the pattern of taking down media outlets critical of the government ahead of scheduled elections.

Antiquerra presented three main points that the media could improve on to counter the threats and attacks against them and in improving the media and information landscape including 1) improving media transparency and accountability, 2) increasing media engagement, and 3) fostering collaboration with a broader network of stakeholders.

Other speakers during the panel discussion include Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia secretary general Ika Ningtyas, UNESCO Jakarta programme specialist, communications and information Ana Lomtadze, and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairman Jonathan de Santos. Imran Noordin of Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) moderated the discussion.

Attacks and threats against journalists during elections remain high. From January 2019 to June 2022, UNESCO recorded 759 journalists and media professionals attacked while working 89 elections around the world.

Ten years since November 2 was declared as International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, there have been 261 journalists murdered in connection with their report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recorded from 1 September 2013 to 31 August 2023. In 204 or more than 78% of these, no-one has been held to account.


Weaponization of Law Against Press Freedom in Southeast Asia

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