Timor-Leste GMN media group ‘sacks’ editor over role on Press Council

GMN news editor Francisco Simões Belo ... elected to represent Timor-Leste journalists in the TL Press Council. Image: RTTL

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The news editor for National Media Group (GMN) in Timor-Leste has been dismissed due to his role as the TL Press Union (TLPU) representative on the country’s Press Council.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the TLPU has condemned the dismissal of the editor as “outrageous” and called for his immediate reinstatement.

Francisco Simões Belo, news editor of GMN received a letter from GMN director of information Francedes Suni on September 27 stating that he was dismissed from his position because his role with the Press Council did not benefit GMN, according to a report by the IFJ Asia-Pacific website.

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The letter also said that Belo “could not concentrate” on the GMN newsroom while he was representing journalists at the Press Council.

Belo was elected by TLPU members to represent TLPU on the self-regulatory Press Council. He has registered his case and mediation is due to begin on October 29.

The IFJ said: “The sacking of a journalist for simply fighting for the rights of fellow journalists is outrageous.

“Francisco has worked hard for journalists across Timor-Leste, and should not be punished for this work. We demand GMN immediately reinstate his employment.”

In a statement to Asia Pacific Report tonight, GMN’s information director Francedes Suni denied that Belo had been “sacked or dismissed”, saying: “For the sake of the truth and fair and balanced journalism, can international media check and if needed, re-check facts before publishing articles?”

However, Suni gave no further clarification to the IFJ media freedom report.

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  1. The headline of this piece of news (“Timor-Leste state media group ‘sacks’ editor over role on Press Council”) is factually wrong as the National Media Group (GMN) is the largest PRIVATE MEDIA GROUP in Timor-Leste and NOT “a state media group” in any way.
    I also call the editor’s attention to the fact that the “Press Council” in Timor-Leste is a self regulatory Media council with competences and attributes bestowed by Law — and not a journalists union/ association as could be implied or easily misunderstood to be in the statement quoted by the news piece in ref. (“fighting for the rights of fellow journalists”).

  2. A clarification: In the letter I signed, based on the instruction by GMN’s Owner and President of the Council od Administration, dated 27 September 2018, there was no mention of dismissal. What the letter said was: In case Francisco decided to decline GMN’s offer/option (Asking Francisco to focus on his work with the TL Press Council, until the end of his mandate, while at GMN he produces a TV program, and continue his current post as the editor in chief and newspaper editor once he concludes his TLPC mandate), GMN would invite him to talk about the termination of his work. However, GMN was not in the position of ‘sacking’ him. Also: I did send two replies to the IFJ report, but for reasons I myself don’t know, my comments have never been posted.

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