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OPINION: By Antonio Sampaio in Dili

The Timor-Leste authorities have to improve significantly the conditions in which journalists are working to cover the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

As the only foreign journalist in East Timor, I support the recommendations made today by the two associations of Timorese journalists.

In a statement sent to Lusa ndewsagency, the Association of Journalists of Timor Lorosa’e (AJTL) and the Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU) have accused the country’s health authorities of not providing “adequate or credible information” over the past few weeks, making it difficult difficult to communicate important news to the society.

READ MORE: How a copyboy became Timor-Leste’s lone ranger foreign correspondent

Timor-Leste confirmed its first Covid-19 infection case last weekend.

There has been total irresponsibility, including the Ministry of Health, in the way they apply themselves, and in the way they are concerned, and over the rule of social distance.

– Partner –

I have mentioned this in the past, but it is vital that all the institutions change the way we work. Especially now that the state of emergency statement is coming.

My recommendations
I make these general recommendations:

Collaboration can be useful between the authorities and journalists, but journalists are independent and cannot be used to pass on government information, especially when the information is not clear, or – as has already happened – it is wrong, to the rest of the world.

The photo I publish today has been taken in Timor’s Parliament. But it could be from so many other situations in the last few weeks.

We can’t keep working like this.

Antonio Sampaio is the Lusa newsagency correspondent in Dili. This personal view on journalist safety was expressed on his Facebook page.

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[1][2][3] How a copyboy became Timor-Leste’s lone ranger foreign correspondent | Asia Pacific Report ➤[4] Timor-Leste health ministry urges calm over first positive Covid-19 case | Asia Pacific Report ➤[5][6] ‘We can’t keep working like this’ – a journalist’s plea to Timorese officials | Asia Pacific Report ➤