Pacific Freedom Forum
Fiji regime's latest journalist debacle a shame for Pacific leadership: PFF
Wednesday 17 December, 2008 -- The overnight detention on arrival in Fiji and refused entry of NZ-based Pacific journalist Barbara Dreaver on Monday night is a shameful indictment of fear and insecurity by the current military regime there.
That's the view of the Pacific Freedom Forum, an online media network of Pacific journalists aimed at promoting the right of Pacific people to be informed and to speak their minds via a free and independent media.
The regional media network says the image of Pacific leadership amongst Forum nations is being seriously damaged by Fiji's army-led government.
"The latest incident involving Ms Dreaver, an experienced Pacific journalist, and implicating her in a secret 'watch list' when she already had clearance from the Ministry of Information to do her job is undermining the credibility of the regime.
"When leaders state a public commitment to media freedom, and then blatantly set out to silence it, they come off looking ridiculous," says Freedom Forum chair Susuve Laumaea.
"This is a shameful example of insecure leadership in a nation which houses the secretariat for our regional leaders and so many other development partners committed to principles of good governance and the human rights of all Pacific people," says Laumaea.
The Papua New Guinea journalist and media commentator says it is "especially shameful as Ms Dreaver is an award winning journalist whose only reason for being barred from entry was for her commitment to her profession."
Dreaver hails from Kiribati and the Cook Islands, where her investigative journalism helped win a former newspaper, weekly Cook Islands Press, the 1996 PINA Media Freedom Award, along with then publisher Jason Brown.
She is also a recipient of the New Zealand Qantas media awards and has been involved in training partnerships with Fiji media colleagues.
PFF co-chair Monica Miller, News Director of 93 KHJ Radio in American Samoa and former President of the Pacific Islands News Association, says the latest incident is a worrying trend in a litany of harassment against media workers by Fiji's government.
"For Dreaver and other journalists, this treatment is just part of getting to the truth," says Miller , "but my heart goes out to the people of Fiji who have to suffer the consequences of such dictatorial leadership." ENDS
PFF interim Chair
Susuve Laumaea Sunday Chronicle Newspaper Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 Office: 675-321-7040 Email: email@example.com
PFF interim co-Chair
Monica Miller KHJ Radio American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 Office 684 633-7793 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media.
We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance.
In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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