Monday, 30 March 2009

PFF statement on assault of Vanuatu Daily Post journalist Esther Tinning

Pacific Freedom Forum

Media Release

Vanuatu Government must step up against attacks on media: Pacific Freedom Forum

For immediate release: Wednesday 11 February, 2009. – Two attacks in as many weeks against Vanuatu daily newspaper the Daily Post has left regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum "appalled and disgusted" at the growing culture of abuse against media workers.

Police officers are under investigation and facing charges for a vicious bashing of Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones in January, even as other colleagues are now opening a second investigation into an attack on Daily Post freelancer Esther Tinning as she walked her children to school early last week.

Reports around the incident say Tinning, a USP graduate, was attacked by a local builder enraged by a feature piece she had written based on information provided by the assailants sister.

"We are awaiting updates on the extent of Ms Tinning's injuries and her condition following this cowardly attack," says Pacific Freedom Forum Chair Susuve Laumaea. "The very public nature of this assault provides an alarming picture of public perceptions around violence, and the twisted motives of her attacker," says Laumaea.

"We applaud the zero tolerance against violence policy of the Daily Post in lodging its complaint, urge the police to look beyond any negative perceptions and bias over Ms. Tinnings' work; and apply the rule of law to investigate this matter fairly and openly," he says.

Co-chair of the Freedom Forum Monica Miller says the assault is evidence of a wider problem in many Pacific nations, where more awareness on the role of the media, and complaint procedures for the public can help to avoid personal abuse and attack against individual journalists.

"It's my view that the latest incident is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to intimidation of journalists and attacks on women in journalism in particular," she says. "Much of what happens behind the news stories and afterwards is never dealt with in the public domain, and unfortunately never pursued in the legal system."

While acknowledging the role of NGOs in helping more people understand the media role in human rights and information work, Miller says it is also time for journalists to "stop accepting abuse and intimidation as part and parcel of their job, and for both journalists and our publics to say enough, and speak out when these occur."

"Following through on any personal attacks through the judicial system will help to build mutual understanding amongst journalists and their Pacific communities; as we all come to acknowledge the human rights of journalists as people just like any other worker in society," she says.


PFF interim Chair
Susuve Laumaea Sunday Chronicle Newspaper Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 Office: 675-321-7040 Email:

PFF interim co-Chair
Monica Miller KHJ Radio American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 Office 684 633-7793 Email:

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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