The MYPOL project in Myanmar works closely with the Myanmar Police Force (MPF), but its overall focus is on Myanmar’s diverse people. Helping communities across the country build trust with the police is the first step toward ensuring positive partnerships in the future –partnerships that keep the public safe and benefit everyone. A key component to this is working with Myanmar’s media to bridge the gap between police and journalists and highlight the importance of journalists’ safety.

As part of this, MYPOL is a co-organiser of the Myanmar Media Development Conference (MMDC) – a forum that brings Myanmar journalists together to discuss important issues facing the media in the country’s changing political landscape. Now in its 8th year, the conference was held online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant hosting the conference over the course of several days with virtual sessions each afternoon.

One of these sessions centred on the safety of journalists during the country’s upcoming elections and it was supported by MYPOL. The MPF joined the conference for the second year in a row and Police Colonel Kyaw Linn, Director of the MPF Criminal Investigation Division, sat as a member of the panel. International experts Red Batario, Executive Director of the Center for Community Journalism Development, and Police Lt. Colonel Kimberly Molitas, Public Information Officer for the Philippines National Police, also served on the panel, along with Daw Wai Mar Theint of the Myanmar Press Council.

Moderated by U Toe Zaw Latt, the four discussed how police and journalists can best work together. Colonel Kyaw Linn expressed that the MPF has no desire to restrict journalists’ access to information. The international panellists laid out different ways police can ensure journalists’ safety and explained that working together is essential to ensure free and fair elections. One panellist summed it up in three words: ‘coordination, coordination, coordination!’

Other sessions at the 8th MMDC discussed how journalists can best prepare for Myanmar’s upcoming elections on 8 November, the role of social media in election reporting, and how to ensure balanced reporting. The conference concluded with a list of recommendations for journalists to consider in 2020 and beyond. MYPOL will continue to work with the MPF and the Myanmar media to assist each in their mission to serve the public.