Pacific Freedom Forum
Samoa Commission must let the media do its job, says Pacific Freedom Forum
For immediate release: Wednesday 29 October, 2008 – The Pacific Freedom Forum, a network of working journalists, trainers, students of journalism and advocates of media freedom respectfully calls on the Samoa Commission of Enquiry probing allegations of gun smuggling to lift restrictions that it has imposed on media coverage of the inquiry.
The PFF commends the Commission of Enquiry for opening up hearings and proceedings to the media; but says allowing access alone doesn't ensure information from the hearing is passed on to those who need to receive it: the people of Samoa.
Pacific Freedom Forum Chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea says reversing the rule on media attendance will help restore credibility to the independence of the Commission of Enquiry, and serve as an endorsement by the leaders of Samoa that a free and independent media continues to be a part of Samoa's role model status for growth and development in the Pacific region.
"Depending on news releases written by commission staff whose mandate is not the same as journalists/reporters is the same as holding the hearings behind closed doors, says Samoan journalist Monica Miller, who is co-chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"Under the commission's rules the media will be present but cannot report on what it sees and hears. This amounts to gagging the media," she says.
The Pacific Freedom Forum notes the boycotting of the commission by the daily Samoa Observer newspaper, and supports this strong objection to the camouflaged silencing of the media.
We respectfully request Ombudsman Maiava Iulai as Commission chair to remove the restrictions and allow the media to report freely and responsibly on the commission's probe of a matter that holds much public interest.
In acknowledging the Commission's duty and responsibilities we sincerely hope that the commission will recognize that the Samoa media must be able to serve its own duty and responsibilities to the people of Samoa.
The commission opened its enquiry earlier this month into how guns were transported from American Samoa to Samoa in May. The transfer implicates high level leadership in the very positions that should be monitoring the illegal movement of arms. ENDS
PFF interim Chair
Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF interim co-Chair
Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
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.