there are just as many signs that, in the words of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), "President Thein Sein's commitment to greater press freedom is still more rhetoric than reality."

Here are five of them:

i. The draft media law doesn't look promising.

The government is drafting a new media law that is meant to replace the old censorship body before the end of the year. Government authorities co-organised two distinguished conferences in January and March on the promised media reforms, which were attended by Mizzima News, ARTICLE 19 and other IFEX members and partners. But participants left the meetings ambivalent about the government's intentions. CPJ voiced concern that the new media legislation will merely employ different tools of suppression, "similar to the legal restrictions on the press in neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam."

i''i. Laws that criminalise dissent are still on the books. '' There has been no indication that the regime intends to overturn the various repressive laws on the books, Some of the key offenders: The Electronics Act allows for jail terms for anyone who sends unauthorised information over the Internet. Authorities frequently have used the law to repress and imprison journalists, says CPJ. Section 122 of the Penal Code of Burma 1957 prohibits any criticism of the government or the state. The Printers and Publishers Registration Act 1962 establishes the government's controversial censorship arm, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), and broadcasting censorship board, which approve all press, television, radio and cinema content before they can publish. Plus, there are big problems with the system in general. For example, the judicial system does not yet act independently or protect the rule of law, and Burma has yet to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which could provide more international and national legitimacy, '' iii. Censorship prevails.'' iv. Press freedom violations were rife around the elections. '' v. Burma still has political prisoners.'' The number of documented political prisoners before the release ranges from 500 to 1,500. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), at least five of those still locked away are journalists and bloggers (Zaw Tun, Win Saing, Ne Min, Aung Htun and Kaung Myat Hlaing, who's also known as Nat Soe).

2012.04.04 International Freedom of Expression Exchange, IFEX