On 6 May the National Parliament gave final approval to the Media Law. Despite vocal criticisms from independent media organisations in Timor-Leste and concerns raised internationally, there was no significant changes made to the content of the draft law. Concerns over the now approved Media Law include undermining Freedom of Press; restrictions on foreign journalists; certification requirements that restrict freelance and student journalists from publishing and harsh penalties that effectively reinstate the defamation law.

Two amendments were made to Article 6 of the draft, not to give an annual subsidy from the State Budget to profit-oriented or commercial media. The other amendment to Article 45, about the composition of the Press Council, removes the requirement that one of the two Parliamentary representatives be a lawyer and allows the Press Council to elect its President from any of its five members.

There were no changes made to the key issues that were debated on a national and international stage relating to the democracy of media and freedom of the press. Lao Hamatuk – key ambassador in fighting for Media Law amendments and changes states “We hope that President Taur Matan Ruak will carefully consider the impact of this law on Timor-Leste’s democracy and society, as well as on journalists, as he decided whether to veto or promulgate it.”

You can access commentary, news articles and a copy of the approved Media Law on ARKTLs Media Laws page.