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13 January 2018, 11:58 | Randall Craig
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Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested December 12 after police accused them of violating the colonial-era law by acquiring "important secret papers" from two policemen.
But the hearing was adjourned immediately since the plaintiff Police Lieutenant Colonel Yu Naing failed to attend the hearing as he had previous commitments.
"This is the first trial of the case. In the interim, they need to be recognised first and foremost as children", she said, stressing that the Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees rights to health, education and opportunities to learn and grow to all children, irrespective of their ethnicity or status or the circumstances in which they find themselves.
The captives should have been handed over to the police, in line with procedure, but the militants were attacking "continuously" and had destroyed two military vehicles with explosives, it said.
"The charges filed against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo represent a giant step backward for press freedom in Myanmar", Shawn Crispin of the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement Wednesday.
The government has said two police officers were also arrested for investigation under suspicion of having violated the Official Secrets Act.
"It is better to ask the plaintiff why the two police officers were not charged along with the journalists". "I want to tell you that that they are charging us like this to stop us finding the truth".
Thet Oo Maung's wife, Pan Ei, said they could only smile at each another in court.
"Roughly said, the defendants say that they were framed into this". "We have reason to suspect that authorities have disposed of human remains, whether maliciously to hide evidence or for other reasons". We can't say much about that now.
Only about 60,000 people remain in the town where 440,000 were living before August, she said.
Ma Chit Su just arrived from Sittwe in Rakhine State, where Ko Kyaw Soe Oo's relatives live, along with their two-year-old daughter. It carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. "Our colleagues should be allowed to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar".
Reporters Without Borders said the two reporters were being used as "scapegoats" to intimidate journalists, as rights groups condemned their continued detention.
Than Zaw Aung, an attorney representing the journalists, told RFA's Myanmar Service following the journalists' second hearing in Yangon that the defense team submitted a bail petition to be considered at the next hearing on January 23, hoping that the judge will grant an exception for what is otherwise not a bailable offense.
"We are disappointed by today's decision to pursue charges against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under the Official Secrets Act". "For democracy to succeed and flourish, journalists must be able to do their jobs".
The US Embassy in Myanmar led reaction to the court decision, expressing disappointment and calling for the "immediate release" of the reporters. Describing media freedom as "the foundation and a cornerstone of any democracy", the spokesman added: " The European Union considers this case an important test for Myanmar's commitment to press freedom, an independent judiciary and the development of democratic institutions".
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