Burma

Two Foreign Journalists Charged With Immigration Violation

By The Irrawaddy 27 November 2017

NAYPYITAW — The court in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township charged two foreign journalists, who were also facing lawsuits for attempting to fly a drone near Parliament in Naypyitaw, with the additional charge of violating the Immigration Act on Monday.

The judge, U Zaw Win Htoo, said during the court session on Monday that the immigration officer of Zabuthiri Township had filed a lawsuit against the two foreign journalists under section 13(1) of the 1947 Myanmar Immigration Act.

Section 13(1) of the Immigration Act states: “Whoever enters or attempts to enter the Union of Burma or whoever after legal entry remains or attempts to remain in the Union of Burma in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or the rules made there under or any of the conditions set out in any permit or visa shall be punished with imprisonment for a term.”

The penalty is a minimum of six months to a maximum of five years, a minimum fine of 1,500 kyats, or both.

According to the defendants’ lawyers, the visas of producer Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia and freelance camera operator Lau Hon Meng from Singapore, who were working for Turkish state broadcaster TRT World, expired on Nov. 17, while the two were detained.

U Khin Maung Zaw, the lawyer for the two Myanmar nationals, told The Irrawaddy that they were being charged for overstaying, which occurred because of their detention. He added that their respective embassies had been notified.

The journalists were arrested on Oct. 28 in Naypyitaw with their interpreter Ko Aung Naing Soe and driver U Hla Tin, while they were trying to fly a drone near Parliament.

They were charged under section 10 of the 1934 Aviation Act and received two months imprisonment on Nov. 10 for attempting to fly the drone without permission.

The journalists are still facing a lawsuit under the 2012 export and import law for illegally bring the drone into the country.

The next court hearing for the journalists will be on December 4.

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