Thursday, 27 April 2017

Let media council do its work - PFF to Samoa Police

 

PFF samoa observer warrant 02
Harassment - a copy of the warrant served on the daily newspaper. Image /
Samoa Observer
 

“.. after accepting public support, she and her family must also accept there will be public questions, and even criticism - one goes with the other .. ”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Samoa police must stop abusing their powers and let the national media council address free speech concerns, says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

“Citizens of Samoa are guaranteed the right to debate issues of public concern", says PFF Chair Monica Miller, in response to police actions on a case involving stigmata claims.

“Police should do nothing to deprive them of those constitutional rights, especially when recent actions against Samoa’s largest media outlet are raising questions over where their legal advice is coming from."

PFF berre isopo 02
Threats - a screengrab of the police
officer’s Facebook profile, included
with an official complaint under
investigation by the Police Standards
Unit. Image / via O Le Palemia

 

Abuse, bullying and threats

Since last year, Police have allowed an officer to continue abusing, bullying and threatening people online.

In recent weeks, police started an investigation into the identity of a blogger who exposed the officer, arrested one woman on the basis of Facebook comments, and, taken action against a letter to a newspaper.

PFF is especially alarmed at police serving a warrant against daily newspaper Samoa Observer over a harassment complaint.

PFF berre isopo


 

 

 



‘I wish I have a gun’ the officer has removed
a photo of herself in uniform from her Facebook
profile, but left up a public comment from 2013,
expressing the desire to get hold of a firearm. 
Image / Facebook

 

Public interest

“Harassment laws were never intended for use against news media but were originally designed to protect people from abusive phone calls, often women suffering stalking from men."

Miller says this is obviously not the case with a young woman at the centre of the case against the newspaper.

“There is huge public interest in her claims of suffering stigmata," she says.

“But after accepting public support, she and her family must also accept there will be public questions, and even criticism - one goes with the other."

Last option

Miller questions why police agreed to take the complaint, and did not refer the complainant to the country's newly established media council.

“Going to the police should be the last option, not the first option."

She is especially critical of court officials for agreeing to the warrant.

“Court approval for search warrants is intended to act as a protection against police abuse of their powers", says Miller, "not act as a rubber stamp for whatever the police bring them."

“In this case, court officials have failed in their duty to respect the law."

PFF samoa observer warrant
Top story – public interest in the
stigmata story is huge, ‘most read’ on
the Samoa Observer site at more than
30,000 hits. Image / Samoa Observer 

 

Millions in aid

PFF says the Samoa police cases again raise wider questions about policing in the region.

“Millions of dollars of tax payers money have been spent by Australia and New Zealand to improve policing in the region.

“Yet we are seeing more and more cases of police abusing their powers against news media, including in Australia and New Zealand."

PFF has previously criticised police actions in Samoa, including officers smashing the phone of a member of the public using it to film police, and doing nothing when members of the press are threatened and assaulted in front of them.

Media council

From Papua New Guinea, PFF Co-chair Alex Rheeney says Samoa, as a member of the United Nations, must ensure it fully observes article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees people's freedom of thought, conscience and speech.

“Our Samoa media colleagues leading the new media council are well-respected regionally,” he says.

“They are more than capable of assisting Police through a dialogue aimed at building awareness by law enforcers of the role of the news media as the Fourth Estate, acting as a check and balance on the powers of parliament, government and the justice system."

HEADLINES

Police execute search warrant of Samoa Observer
http://samoaobserver.ws/en/23_04_2017/local/19230/Police-execute-search-warrant-of-Samoa-Observer.htm

Female Officer investigated for abusive language on social media
http://www.talamua.com/female-officer-investigated-for-abusive-language-on-social-media/

Police still in the hunt for ‘O.L.P.’ blogger
http://samoaobserver.ws/en/24_04_2017/local/19282/Police-still-in-the-hunt-for-%E2%80%98OLP%E2%80%99-blogger.htm

Crimes Act 2013 2013
http://www.paclii.org/cgi-bin/sinodisp/ws/legis/consol_act_2016/ca201382/ca201382.html?stem=&synonyms=&query=%20Crimes%20Act%202013

Police Woman Being Investigated
http://olepalemia.weebly.com/blog/police-woman-being-investigated

The Letter of Complaint to Police
http://olepalemia.weebly.com/blog/the-letter-of-complaint-to-police

Incompetent and Corrupt Officers Destroy Integrity of the Police Force
http://olepalemia.weebly.com/blog/incompetent-and-corrupt-officers-destroy-integrity-of-the-police-force

CONTACTS

Monica Miller
PFF Chair
News Director
South Seas Broadcasting
American Samoa
monica@southseasbroadcasting.com
+6842584197

Alexander Rheeney
PFF Co-Chair
President Media Council PNG
Papua New Guinea
alexander.rheeney@outlook.com
+67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon
PFF Co-Chair
Palau Correspondent
Guam Business
carreon.bernadette@gmail.com
+680779430

Netani Rika
PFF Coordinator
Communications Director
Pacific Council of Churches
Fiji
netrika66@gmail.com

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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 Framework for Pacific Regionalism 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.

. . .

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Indonesia bans yet another journalist

#alert | #westpapua #wpfd2017

News alert : France24 journalist Jack Hewson
is the latest to be banned from visiting West
Papua, despite Indonesia hosting World
Press Freedom Day in less than a month.
Photo / Twitter

Alert status : greenlight for statement

Links : Limited

Foreign Reporting in Papua
https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/04/07/314863531/Foreign-Reporting-in-Papua

Blacklisting of freelance journalist on Papua mission ‘paranoid’
http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/04/11/blacklisting-of-freelance-journalist-covering-papua-paranoid-says-tempo/

Editor note : The Tempo piece gives Al Jazeera as Hewson’s employer, but Twitter and LinkedIn profiles both lead with France24.

. . .

Stop failing Pacific press test–PFF

“Standing on sacred ground is no place to deny freedoms that many died defending ”


Angry headline on the press ban in Papua New Guinea. Screenshot / https://poboxblog.wordpress.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :

Australia and Papua New Guinea must review media relations after two separate but equally "shocking" bans on PNG press, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

In the first ban, PNG news media were told by Australian embassy officials to leave a press conference held at a war cemetery.

“Standing on sacred ground is no place to deny freedoms that many died defending”, says PFF Chair Monica Miller.

Arrogant

In a second ban after the cemetery visit, local news media were told by an official from the office of the PNG prime minister that they could not ask questions at a “joint” press between Peter O'Neil and Malcolm Turnbull.

“Australia has long faced criticism from the region for arrogant, neocolonial attitudes,” notes Miller.

“Issuing bans is no way to disprove those criticisms.”


Media anger - an ABC employee publicly criticises the prime ministerial press ban. Screenshot / Facebook

Blame and shame

PFF condemns the bans, and expresses disgust at the actions of both governments.

“The government of Papua New Guinea must share the blame - and the shame - with Australia for agreeing to ban PNG press from press conferences that should have been open to news media from both countries.”

In background briefings given to PFF, Port Moresby sources state that PNG press were told to leave by Australian officials after taking photos of a visit by Alexander Turnbull to Bomana cemetery, a major war graveyard, with thousands of dead from World War II.

PNG journalists who questioned the order were told that a press conference with Turnbull at the Bomana site was “only” for Australian press, because only Australian issues would be discussed.

After the Bomana visit, Turnbull held a second press conference with host prime minister Peter O'Neill, at Airways Hotel.

Astonished

PNG media were then instructed they were not allowed to ask questions at the second, "joint" press conference.

“PFF is astonished at having to remind Australia, as a former chair of the UN Security Council, that a joint prime ministerial press conference involves not just the leaders but also the press of both countries.

“Having to even say that beggars belief. A press ban amounts to a diplomatic insult, in any democracy.”


Racism in her face - veteran PNG journalist Gorethy Kenneth gets told to leave press conference. Screenshot / Daily Telegraph

Contempt

PFF regards the bans as representing two failures in basic freedoms.

“Two failures. One day. Two governments,” says Miller.

“Both bans show contempt for a free press, guaranteed under constitutional protections, and article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Miller praises a journalist who defied the ban, saying Gorethy Kenneth from the PNG Post Courier should get answers to her questions.

Submission

“We also feel for Australian media colleagues who have been embarrassed by this diplomatic blunder.”

News of the press ban comes the same month as a PFF submission to an Australian senate committee remains held back from the public.

“Our submission is to a public inquiry, yet we have been told to stop sharing our submission with anyone else, until given approval by the committee.”

It is not clear how many other submissions, if any, are also being held back.

PFF offers the reminder that parliamentary procedure does not apply to press practice, which demands immediate release.


Australian newspaper describes media ban as a "debacle".
Screenshot / Daily Telegraph

Policy laundering

“Australia claims to be a regional leader yet stumbles over even the basics of human rights, such as freedoms of speech”, says Miller.

PFF regards the three press freedom failures as reinforcing long-standing questions about relations between Australia and the rest of the Pacific.

“Heavy handed tactics with the press may work in Australia, but we do not need that kind of policy laundered to the rest of the Pacific.”

Ranking media

PFF states that the press bans goes beyond diplomacy, and applies to all seven million citizens of Papua New Guinea, all twenty two million in Australia, and an "appalled" regional audience.

“How are citizens of Papua New Guinea supposed to stay informed if their prime minister fails to ensure their own news media gets in?

“How are Australian tax-payers supposed to learn if their aid dollars are being spent properly, if they don't hear local questions, from local media, challenging both leaders with local knowledge?”

PFF states that the bans reinforce the need for governments to rank media as a first priority, not last.

“Our message is simple - stop failing the Pacific press test, stop failing democracy.”

HEADLINES

PM’s Kokoda trip just a hasty PR exercise http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/miranda-devine-pms-kokoda-trip-just-a-hasty-pr-exercise/news-story/3cfa22ee50677d1ec26cd72e837f3699

Turnbull in PNG: media snubs, refugee jitters & money problems http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/04/turnbull-in-png-media-snubs-refugee-jitters-money-problems.html

Opinion - Turnbull, the neocolonialist, bans #PNG media from conference in their own country
https://poboxblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/turnbull-the-neocolonialist-bans-papua-new-guinea-media-from-press-conference/

CONTACTS

Monica Miller
PFF Chair
News Director
South Seas Broadcasting
American Samoa
monica@southseasbroadcasting.com
+6842584197

Alexander Rheeney
PFF Co-Chair
President Media Council PNG
Papua New Guinea
alexander.rheeney@outlook.com 
+67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon
PFF Co-Chair
Palau Correspondent
Guam Business
carreon.bernadette@gmail.com 
+680779430

Netani Rika
PFF Coordinator
Communications Director
Pacific Council of Churches
Fiji
netrika66@gmail.com

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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 Framework for Pacific Regionalism 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.

. . .

Friday, 24 March 2017

Action needed now against Indonesia press ban "farce" - PFF

 

PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·
SATURDAY, 25 MARCH 2017

“ Are world press supposed to attend World Press Freedom Day, sip fruity drinks in Jakarta, and pretend our colleagues in West Papua are not being seriously mistreated? ”

Tragedy to farce - an Indonesian immigration official shows how to fill out official forms for APOA, Foreign Reporter Applications. Photo / Antara / Irsan Mulyadi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :

World Press Freedom Day co-host Indonesia must issue a written directive to fulfil promises for free press access to West Papua, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“Latest deportation of two French journalists is an embarrassing reminder of how little Indonesia respects press freedoms,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.

“Especially embarrassing because the two journalists were producing a documentary for Garuda, the national airline of Indonesia.”

Put it in writing

PFF is calling on #WPFD2017 co-host UNESCO to push for urgent action on the long promised but never delivered written directive from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Without any directive, the credibility of both UNESCO and Indonesia must come under serious question, says PFF.

“Indonesia cannot seek to enjoy favourable attention as hosts to world press while continuing a de facto ban on the same people,” says Miller.

Pretend

“Nor can UNESCO stand aside and let this issue slide silently by.”

PFF notes the lack of any specific sessions in the existing WPFD programme to address the issue of West Papua.

“Are world press supposed to attend World Press Freedom Day,” she asks, “sip fruity drinks in Jakarta, and pretend our colleagues in West Papua are not being seriously mistreated?

Two French journalists Franck Escudié and Basille Longchamp are put on display at an Indonesia police press conference in Tembagapura, Papua. Photo / AFP / Irsul Aditra

Farce

"Press freedoms in Indonesia have gone from a tragedy to a farce."

PFF supports the call from Human Rights Watch for Joko Widowi to issue a long-delayed written directive lifting restrictions on foreign media access to Papua, and appropriately punish government officials who refuse to comply.

“Criticism is not enough, action is needed. Nor is it enough to state that the latest deportation raises questions,” says Miller.

Half a century

“News media, press freedom advocates and human rights activists have been raising questions for half a century.”

Enough, is enough, says Miller.

"Indonesia has been warned already.

Mockery

“Unless UNESCO and Indonesia take action to immediately address this issue, PFF will have no alternative than to declare this event a mockery of world press freedom, unworthy of attendance.”

Instead of ignoring West Papua, Indonesia should mark World Press Freedom Day 2017 by allowing credibly independent observers from overseas to arrange free, unhindered and unmonitored news media access to the provinces.

“Stop watching the watchdogs,” Miller tells Indonesian security forces, long documented harassing, arresting, and persecuting West Papua press.

West Papua has suffered censorship in the form of travel bans on foreign press for more than five decades. Image / Free West Papua campaign

Deported

Jean Frank Pierre, 45, and Basille Marie Longhamp, 42, were charged and deported with violating Article 75 (1) of the 2011 Immigration Law.

This is despite Indonesia having extensive press freedom protection laws, which are mostly sidelined in Papua under various other laws, such as security for local media, and immigration for foreign press.

Indonesia is also a member of the United Nations, with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

HEADLINES

Indonesia Steamrolls Media Freedom in Papua, Again https://www.hrw.org/…/indonesia-steamrolls-media-freedom-pa…

Two French journalists deported from Papua over alleged immigration violations http://www.thejakartapost.com/…/two-french-journalists-depo…

Indonesia deports 2 French journalists from Papua province http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm…

Two French Journalists Banned From Papua Over Visa Violations http://www.pireport.org/…/two-french-journalists-banned-pap…

French journo pair deported from West Papua http://www.radionz.co.nz/…/french-journo-pair-deported-from…

Two French journalists deported from Papua over alleged visa violations http://asiapacificreport.nz/…/two-french-journalists-depor…/

CONTACTS

Monica Miller
PFF Chair
News Director
South Seas Broadcasting
American Samoa
monica@southseasbroadcasting.com
+6842584197

Alexander Rheeney
PFF Co-Chair
President Media Council PNG
Papua New Guinea
alexander.rheeney@outlook.com
+67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon
PFF Co-Chair Palau
Correspondent Guam Business
carreon.bernadette@gmail.com
+680779430

Netani Rika
PFF Coordinator
Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches
Fiji
netrika66@gmail.com

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.

. . .

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Open dialogue clears air over protocol - PFF

 

PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·WEDNESDAY, 22 MARCH 2017

 

“Our first responsibility is to listen to views from the public, not take orders from career officials or political appointees.”

Whose department? Senior PNG officials have been 'reminded' that the news media are not their department. Image / Post Courier website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :

Governments should see news media as a partner – not one of their departments, reminds PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“Departmental heads have to remember an old saying in government when it comes to news media,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller -

“- that’s not my department.”

Warning vs. warning

PFF is responding to news from Papua New Guinea, quoting Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, describing him as having “warned” all media not to talk to “any” person unless he authorises them.

That warning was backed up by Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan, who was reported as having “reminded” news media to “always” follow “protocol.”

But PFF is responding with a warning of its own.

Much worse off

“Papua New Guinea will be much worse off from corruption and mismanagement if news media wait for departmental heads all the time,” says Miller.

“Our first responsibility as news media is to listen to views from the public, not take orders from career officials or political appointees.”

Instead of seeing media as the enemy, Miller says governments should see news like a frontline against corruption, as called for by citizens and endorsed by island states at multiple international meetings, over decades.

Listen to the public

“May we also remind departmental heads they are there to listen to the public, which pay taxes funding their salaries.”

PFF welcomed other news last week of a meeting, hosted by Pacmas, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, and UNDP, the United Nations Development Fund, that was held in Fiji to improve relations between Parliament and media.

“Governments need to hold more of these meetings, and regional partners should look at widening the scope to include more news media”, says Miller.

Balanced, objective and impartial

In a country still heavily dependent on public broadcasting for information, Papua New Guinea has long had laws requiring that the government provide “balanced, objective and impartial broadcasting services” including that “adequate” access be given to public opinion - with questions of “accuracy” to be set by the NBCPNG.

Section 5d of the Constitution calls for “freedom of conscience, of expression, of information and of assembly and association.”

Papua New Guinea is also a member of the United Nations, with the article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guaranteeing that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Media and government relations

PFF is repeating calls for governments across the region to revisit a 1990 media relations conference, held in the Cook Islands, as a long overdue step towards better mutual understanding.

Hosted by the Cook Islands with the Pacific Islands Forum, the conference saw comprehensive objectives laid out for improving relations between news media and island governments.

However there was never any follow up, with both governments and news media failing to act on the recommendations.

LINK

Media warned to follow protocols (subscription) http://www.postcourier.com.pg/login/?ref=%2FStories%2Fmedia-warned-to-follow-protocols%2F

CONTACTS

Monica Miller PFF Chair News Director South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa monica@southseasbroadcasting.com +6842584197

Alexander Rheeney PFF Co-Chair President Media Council PNG Papua New Guinea alexander.rheeney@outlook.com +67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon PFF Co-Chair Palau Correspondent Guam Business carreon.bernadette@gmail.com +680779430

Netani Rika PFF Coordinator Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches Fiji netrika66@gmail.com

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.

. . .

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Fiji police should face suspension - PFF

. . .
“We’re calling on Fiji police to follow normal procedure in this case and suspend any officer under investigation.”
#fiji #media #assault #pacific #journalism #safety
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :


Praneeta Prakash interviewed after being struck in the stomach with a stone. Photo / FBC via Pacific Media Watch
Police failing to take action against a prisoner that assaulted a Fiji journalist should face immediate suspension, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Once again police are failing to uphold the law,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.
“Refusing to answer a complaint from a journalist, hit in the stomach right in front of them, outside the country’s main courts, is a serious dereliction of duty.”
Struck
Filming a man sentenced on a corruption case, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation journalist Praneeta Prakash was struck in the stomach with a stone thrown by a remand prisoner.
The prisoner was under police escort at the time.
They refused to take action even as the prisoner swore and verbally abused Prakash.
Immediate
PFF welcomed quick condemnation from the Fiji Media Assocation over the attack, and the failure by police to take immediate action.
“All too often, media fail to raise any protest when a colleague is threatened or assaulted”, says Miller.
“Quick responses from FMA puts pressure on FBC to follow up and insist on official action against the prisoner, and the officers who failed to do their duty.”


FBC carried news of the attack this week, exposing police inaction. Image / FBC
Endorsing
PFF supports a statement from Fijian Media Association general secretary Stanley Simpson that reporters cover court cases to inform the public and ensure justice is served.
Simpson said that journalists “need to be left to do their work because in the end it benefits everyone.”
He referred to incidents where a Fiji TV reporter was manhandled, and a Fiji Sun reporter also got attacked attacked recently.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro - "journalists have every right" to film in public. Screenshot / FBC
Public interest
“Now we see the terrible incident of a stone being thrown at a journalist”, said Simpson.
“In these public spaces, and especially in the public interest, the journalist has every right to be there to take footage.”
PFF welcomed a promise from Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro that a thorough investigation would be carried out.
Suspend
Naisoro said that they “have had some incidents where members of the public have attacked journalists again. We would request them to respect the rights of the journalist. They are simply doing their jobs, they’re not breaking any law.”
PFF says that Police leadership needs to send a strong message to its officers that they need to take action when they see crime - and punish those that don’t. Says Miller, “We’re calling on Fiji police to follow normal procedure in this case and suspend any officer under investigation.”
Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj was quoted as saying that it was “deeply concerning” that journalists are exposed to such incidents, and calling for a safe environment where media are able to discharge their duties.


An officer turns towards the camera, just after the stone was thrown. Image / FBC
Regional perspective
Assaults against news media in Fiji join similar incidents in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and, most seriously, in West Papua.
From a regional perspective on journalism safety, Miller noted that Indonesia was this week hosting police chiefs from Melanesian states.
“In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day being hosted in Indonesia this May, there should be much greater effort among police chiefs to uphold safety for members of the press.”
HEADLINES
Journalist attacked - FBC https://youtu.be/2z1_zlTW6n8?t=162
Safety of Fiji media personnel comes under the spotlight http://www.pina.com.fj/?p=pacnews&m...
Condemnation of attack on Fiji journalist outside Suva courthouse http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-...
Attack on FBC reporter outside court stirs media protests http://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/03...
CONTACTS
Monica Miller PFF Chair News Director South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa monica@southseasbroadcasting.com +6842584197
Alexander Rheeney PFF Co-Chair President Media Council PNG Papua New Guinea alexander.rheeney@outlook.com +67578045266
Bernadette H. Carreon PFF Co-Chair Palau Correspondent Guam Business carreon.bernadette@gmail.com +680779430
Netani Rika PFF Coordinator Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches Fiji netrika66@gmail.com
ABOUT PFF
The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.
. . .

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Independent review for public broadcaster – PFF

“ It is not the job of any news media to support the government of the day, but to represent the public - and they must be ethical when reporting criticism - PFF”




Biased? Tonga Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva says the public broadcaster is overly critical and not supportive of his government. Photo / Radio New Zealand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Government in the Kingdom of Tonga should seek independent review before privatising or shutting down the national broadcaster, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Threatening to shut down the Tonga Broadcasting Commission sends the wrong message”, says PFF Chair Monica Miller.
“As a former pro-democracy reform movement, the current government should remember it’s roots.”
Review bias
PFF is calling for Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva to seek an independent review from regional and international media, into allegations that commission staff are biased against his administration.
“Mr Pohiva could very well be right to allege there are old royalists in the TBC who act unethically in their reporting,” says Miller.
“But shutting down or privatising the commission is no way to prove those allegations.”
Ethics and independence
An independent review could establish what codes of ethic and conduct are in place to prevent unethical reporting – and what mechanisms are in place to protect the tax-funded broadcasting commission, says Miller.
“It is not the job of any news media to support the government of the day, but to represent the public - and they must be ethical when reporting criticism.”
Fair or not, criticism is essential to a free flow of debate in any democracy, and is guaranteed under the constitution of Tonga, as well as the country’s membership of the United Nations.





From royalist to disloyal? Pictured here during a disaster communications workshop supported by Japan, the Tonga state broadcaster used to suffer censorship, but now reports on issues such as corruption claims. Photo / Facebook / TBC

Wrong message
“At a time when Australia has abandoned its responsibilities to the region by cutting shortwave, it sends the wrong message for Pacific leaders to be threatening their own information services.”
Miller says the Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva was famous in opposition for asserting his right to freedom of expression despite legal threats, imprisonment and censorship.
Pohiva needs to rediscover that spirit of free speech, and a free press, guaranteed under the constitution, she says, and not let criticism affect proper governance.
Oldest constitution
Tonga has the oldest constitution in Oceania, and is one of the ten oldest constitutions in the world. Clause 7 of the Tonga constitution states:
“Freedom of the press - It shall be lawful for all people to speak write and print their opinions and no law shall ever be enacted to restrict this liberty. There shall be freedom of speech and of the press for ever but nothing in this clause shall be held to outweigh the law of slander or the laws for the protection of the King and the Royal Family.”
Under UN membership, Tonga has also pledged guarantees under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
LINKS :
E fa’u ha lao ke tamate’i ‘a e Letiō Tonga – Palēmia ‘Akilisi Pohiva http://nepituno.to/index.php/opinions/item/1947-e-fa-u-ha-lao-ke-tamate-i-a-e-letio-tonga-palemia-akilisi-pohiva
CONTACTS
Monica Miller PFF Chair News Director South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa monica@southseasbroadcasting.com +6842584197
Alexander Rheeney PFF Co-Chair President Media Council PNG Papua New Guinea alexander.rheeney@outlook.com +67578045266
Bernadette H. Carreon PFF Co-Chair Palau Correspondent Guam Business carreon.bernadette@gmail.com +680779430
Netani Rika PFF Coordinator Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches Fiji netrika66@gmail.com
ABOUT PFF
The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.
. . .

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Open letter to civil society

 

“ At a time when CSOs also face increasing pressure, please help our colleagues at the ABC help keep your audiences informed, engaged, and participatory.

PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·SUNDAY, 12 MARCH 2017

Civil society across the region - PIANGO Executive Director Emele Duituturaga, presenting at high level UN event on post-2015 agenda. Photo / PIANGO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :

Talofa, greetings civil society partners,

For decades, news teams across Oceania have helped create awareness around civil society issues, promoting vital debate, far beyond CSO board rooms.

Not always in ways some feel that media 'should', but how media 'could' with shrinking capacity - and nearly always for public good. Now, news media need help from civil society organisations - to #saveshortwave.

Here's why :

On 31st January, ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, cut off shortwave broadcasts to the Pacific region – the latest in years of cutbacks. This means there is just one regional shortwave service remaining - RNZI – now in its seventh year of a funding freeze.

That leaves RNZI more isolated, and increasingly vulnerable to political pressure. Both stations act as an information lifeline during times of natural disasters, and political crisis.

Ending nearly 80 years of shortwave service has been widely criticised, with just over 1,000 supporters joining our petition already. Among them, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, and senior officials from around the island region. Even Australia's own Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop has expressed concern.

Please consider formally signing our PFF petition, here : https://www.change.org/p/abc-chair-hon-james-spigelman-save-lifesaving-shortwave-radio-to-the-pacific

Please consider making a submission to the senate hearings by 10th May later this year, here : http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Shortwaveradio

At a time when CSOs also face increasing pressure, please help our colleagues at the ABC help keep your audiences informed, engaged, and participatory.

Fa'afetai lava,

Monica Miller
PFF Chair

. . .

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Women’s rights are human rights

20170309 PFF IWD PR womens rights are human rights
Women in media - PFF Chair Monica Miller, centre, and FFA Media Officer Lisa Williams, left, with PINA President Moses Stevens, at the 2016 Pacific Media Summit.

PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·THURSDAY, 9 MARCH 2017

“I am making this plea to the women who go through any situation where their rights as workers and journalists are under threat, to please reach out and report these incidents”

ARCHIVE UPDATE :

Women journalists may appear to have a glamorous job, but reality behind the scenes includes bullying, sexual harassment and lower pay. Photo / RNZI / Johnny Blades

#IWD Message from PFF Chair Monica Miller

Women’s rights are human rights.

Reminding ourselves and our communities of that simple statement every March 8 is a call that is necessary for two reasons: we need to celebrate the achievements and progress that has been made.

Decent pay

And we need to recharge ourselves, organize, and act to rise up to the challenges that remain.

Pacific women in the media, through the promise of our Pacific leaders when they went to Beijing, China for the UN's action call on women in 1995, have a right to leadership and decision-making roles in the media.

They have a right to decent pay and working conditions while employers implement gender equality polices in newsrooms.

Fair, balanced

And as media consumers, we all have the right to fair, balanced news content speaking to gender balanced news content and values.

They a right to all these things not because they are women, but because they are human.

International Women's Day isn't about creating a space where our men and boys feel left out.

Threats

It's about addressing the spaces where our women and girls are left out.

This time last year, as we have in previous years, PFF issued an alert specific to the threats against women's voices and women's work in the news.

That hasn't changed.

Volunteer

Our media release this year highlights a focus issue of concern for balance in gender portrayal in news content, and calls on more Pacific newsrooms to support the Global Media Monitoring Project, to ensure results are more reflective of our realities.

PFF is a volunteer network, led by journalists for journalists on the Article 19 watchdog role at the core of our work.

I want to thank my co-chairs Alex Rheeney from PNG, and Bernedette Carreon from Palau, for their support and advisory role for the Melanesia and Micronesia subregions.

Violence

In the focus that PFF takes on industry-led, industry-focused solutions to the problems of violence, intimidation, and working conditions facing our Pacific women in journalism, there remains an insidious silence and denial that the problems women in media face are worth reporting.

I am making this plea to the women who go through any situation where their rights as workers and journalists are under threat, to please reach out and report these incidents.

About IWD The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year 1975.

United Nations

Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike.

Acts of courage

The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made.

To call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

NOTE:

PFF - registered in the Cook Islands - dateline today is 8th March, International Women’s Day #IWD

PFF HEADLINES ON WOMEN IN MEDIA

News leaders must stop bullying women https://www.facebook.com/notes/paci...

Stop assaults on free speech https://www.facebook.com/notes/paci...

Deadline looms on Papua Press blocks http://www.pacificfreedomforum.info/...

CONTACTS

Monica Miller
PFF Chair
News Director, South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa monica@southseasbroadcasting.com
+6842584197

Alexander Rheeney
PFF Co-Chair
President, Media Council PNG
Papua New Guinea alexander.rheeney@outlook.com
+67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon
PFF Co-Chair
Palau
Correspondent, Guam Business
carreon.bernadette@gmail.com
+680779430

Netani Rika
PFF Coordinator
Communications Director
Pacific Council of Churches Fiji netrika66@gmail.com

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.

. . .

Monday, 6 March 2017

Abandon outdated Fiji sedition laws - PFF

 

20170308 PFF Fiji Times Hank Arts
Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts, centre, outside the High Court. Photo / Fiji Sun

PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·WEDNESDAY, 8 MARCH 2017

“Outdated seditious libel laws inherited by Fiji from the United Kingdom should be left back in the colonial era where they belong” - PFF

Fiji Times Publisher Hank Arts and Editor Fred Wesley exit the High Court yesterday, after hearing of plans to look at sedition charges over an opinion column. Photo / Fiji Village

ARCHIVE (from PFF FB page):

Judicial partners should encourage the Fiji prosecution office to pull back from sedition charges against the country's leading newspaper, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Fiji's judiciary is again out of step with the rest of the region", says PFF Chair Monica Miller, speaking from American Samoa.

"Colleagues from around the region need to extend what they've learn from many millions in aid spent on improving judicial services."

Incitement

Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, was this week given 21 days leave by the Fiji High Court to consider whether or not existing charges of "inciting communal antagonism" should be upgraded to sedition.

The charges stem from an opinion piece in an indigenous language newspaper, Nai Lalakai, published criticising the role of Muslims in the Fiji government.

In iTaukei, the column includes the passage which raised incitement charges:

“Muslims are not the indigenous of this country. These are people that have invaded other nations, for example, Bangladesh in India, where they killed, raped and abused their women and children. Today they have gone to the extent of having a part in the running of the country.”

Unfair

Anti-muslim opinion - former politician Josaia Waqabaca outside Fiji High Court this week. Photo / Rama / Fiji Times

Column author Josaia Waqabaca faces incitement charges along with Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley, along with Fiji Times Ltd publisher and general manager Hank Arts.

Miller says the opinion piece has already been attacked in public as deeply unfair to Fiji Muslims.

"And that's where unfair opinion should be challenged - in the court of public opinion - not the actual courts themselves," says Miller.

Colonial

PFF is repeating earlier calls to drop the incitement charges, and abandon any move towards sedition charges.

"Outdated seditious libel laws inherited by Fiji from the United Kingdom should be left back in the colonial era where they belong", she says.

The United Kingdom abolished the offence of seditious libel in 2009.

Press

Miller describes leave given by the court as sending the completely wrong message about the role of the press.

"Hopefully, other courts around the region do not see this as a precedent for dealing with the Fourth Estate."

The case returns to court on 23 March.

LINKS

DPP looks at sedition charges for Fiji Times, Hank Arts and others http://fijivillage.com/news-feature...

DPP plans to amend charges in media case http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx...

Charges against Fiji Times and four others may be amended https://fijione.tv/charges-aganist-...

I did not instruct my lawyer to challenge caution interview: http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/48805/i-...

CONTACTS

Monica Miller
PFF Chair
News Director, South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa monica@southseasbroadcasting.com
+6842584197

Alexander Rheeney
PFF Co-Chair
President, Media Council PNG
Papua New Guinea alexander.rheeney@outlook.com
+67578045266

Bernadette H. Carreon
PFF Co-Chair
Palau
Correspondent, Guam Business
carreon.bernadette@gmail.com
+680779430

Netani Rika
PFF Coordinator
Communications Director
Pacific Council of Churches Fiji netrika66@gmail.com 

ABOUT PFF

The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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.

. . .