Monday, May 4, 2009

World Press Freedom Day - Day 2

More than a hundred journalists came together in Dili, Timor-Leste on Sunday to mark World Press Freedom Day. The event was held at Hotel Turismo -- a fitting location -- in that many international journalists bunked there while covering the tragic events in 1975 when the Indonesian occupation began -- and they stayed there again in 1999, when Timor fought for its independence.

Sunday's event was held in the hotel's beer garden -- with a canopy of cocoa trees providing cover from the afternoon heat.

Otelio Ote, the president of one of the five journalism associations in Timor-Leste, noted that no journalists are jailed in this country. He urged all the journalists present to make sure they make themselves heard when the latest draft of the Media Law is revealed. He said the document must contain input from journalists to ensure the law doesn't hinder their ability to their jobs. Journalists were able to get defamation out of an earlier draft -- that could have potentially sent those convicted of defamation to jail.

It's exciting to be living in a new country (seven years old on May 20th) that is still crafting its laws. Timor-Leste has a chance to create the best media law in the world -- one that journalists would help write. Who better to help craft the media law than journalists? After the speeches, journalists danced in the rain to reggae music.

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