The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) joins a call by journalists representing 12 Pacific nationsfor governments of the region to defend and promote freedom
of the media in the Pacific, in line with their international obligations under
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The call was made by 40 journalists and media workers from across the Pacific
at the inaugural meeting of the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in Apia, Samoa, from May 6 to 8.
The “Project XIX: Courage Under Fire” seminar, which included a two-day workshop on freedom
of expression and media rights reporting and monitoring delivered by the IFJ, sought
to address growing threats to media freedom in the Pacific region.
who shared their personal experiences of abuse and intimidation, expressed deep
concerns about increasing violations of journalists’ rights and media freedom
in their countries and across the region.
They noted that
attacks on journalists and draconian restrictions on the media in several Pacific Island countries threatened the quality
and diversity of regional journalism as well as the right of ordinary people to
delegates heard first-hand reports of attacks on media freedom and individual
journalists, and applaud ‘courage under fire’ shown by journalists sharing
their stories with us,” the delegates said in their outcome statement.
They agreed to
unified action to conduct systematic monitoring and reporting of threats and
attacks on journalists and media freedoms across the Pacific.
strongly endorses the commitment shown by Pacific journalists to defend the rights
of journalists and the media in the Pacific
Islands. A coherent program
for monitoring and reporting on violations of media rights will strengthen the
ability and resolve of journalists throughout the Pacific to work together to counter
such abuses and to build regional unity in defending free media,” IFJ General Secretary
Aidan White said.
crisis in Fiji
was a recurring theme throughout the meeting, bringing to the fore the seriousness
of the challenge for Pacific media.
was originally scheduled to be held in Fiji to coincide with World Press
Freedom Day on May 3. However, the worsening of the constitutional crisis in Fiji in April and the military regime’s
subsequent imposition of emergency regulations and harsh restrictions on media forced
a change of venue to Samoa.
Apia called for a prompt resolution of the Fiji crisis, noting that the clampdown on the media
poses a region-wide crisis.
As a first
step, they urged regional news service PACNEWS, run by the Pacific Islands News
Association (PINA),to move its secretariat out of Fiji in
order to maintain its independence.
urge Pacific governments and media colleagues alike to accept open debate,
criticism and public feedback as the lifeblood of democracy, which must be
embraced in order to give all Pacific citizens a voice,” the Apia statement said.
delegates also agreed to work for the provision of insurance and security
measures for media personnel, and to advocate for an assurance of equal
professional rights and personal security for women journalists and media
workers in the Pacific.
conclusion of the meeting, the IFJ and Pacific delegates warmly welcomed an assurance
by Samoa’s Prime Minister to uphold media
freedoms in the Pacific.
an address at a Pacific Media Freedom Day event on May 8 hosted by the
Journalists’ Association of Western Samoa (JAWS), Prime Minister Tuilaepa
Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi reiterated his personal commitment to a free and
quality media throughout the Pacific.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries