RARATONGA, Cook Islands, Sunday, 22 June -- A decision to deny accreditation to last week's meeting of the newly formed Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) for a top regional journalist based in Fiji has been condemned for its lack of process and transparency by regional media alerts group, the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.
"The decision to deny accreditation to Islands Business group editor-in-chief Samisoni Pareti to the forum without providing reasons or process to allow him right of appeal is a revealing trend that the media restrictions of the host country of the PIDF are part of the parcel governing this new body," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi, of PNG.
"We call on the PIDF to explain to the Pacific nations it claims to represent why they are effectively unable to find out what is happening at an apparently high-level event. A leading member of the Pacific press corps has been banned without reason, from reporting on a major event in his own country," says Gabi.
"This demonstrates an appalling lack of basic knowledge of how the media serve the public interest in reporting what leaders are doing and saying at these costly meetings. Importantly, it will also incur a credibility cost for the fledgling organisation at a time when it most needs to be seen to be independent of its host country politics," she says.
The online media network covering Pacific journalists and media practitioners is also worried about the future of the two University of the South Pacific (USP) academics who chose to speak out in a privately-issued press statement.
Acting head of Journalism Patrick Craddock and lecturer Dr Matthew Thompson have broken the long silence from the University with a strongly-worded statement raising their concerns on regime intimidation of journalists in the lead up to the general elections.
"We commend Craddock and Dr Thompson for making a stand for journalistic integrity and academic freedom by breaking the silence on what is happening to journalism, journalists, and free speech in Fiji," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.
"Again, we remind Fiji that it is a host country to agencies that belong to the Pacific, which economically benefits from these regional agencies. We also remind regional agencies that they must be mindful of their Pacific mandate and not allow host-country policies -- or in the case of Fiji- military decrees-- to dictate the regional interest."
PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM
PFF CHAIR | Titi Gabi | PNGEdge.com | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, PNG | Mob: +675 70686875 | firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF CO-CHAIR | Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | Pago Pago, America Samoa | Mob: +684 258 4197 | Office: +684 633 7793 | email@example.com
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.