IFEX Outreach, IFJ add to UNESCO support for Pacific Freedom Forum
May 1 2009 – As World Press Freedom Day is celebrated around the world this Sunday May 3, journalists and observers from 12 Pacific nations and all forms of mainstream media are making their way to Apia, Samoa, for a ‘Courage under Fire’ media freedom event.
The workshop takes its ‘Project XIX’ theme from Article 19(XIX) of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
Article 19 confirms the right to express an opinion or idea without fear for one’s safety, and forms the basis for what is commonly known as media freedom or free speech.
Lead trainer Deborah Muir is the Sydney-based Program Manager for the International Federation of Journalists, and will bring a strong background in media training, advocacy, and development to the event.
Co-trainer Kalafi Moala is an award winning media veteran, activist and author recognised for his achievements by the Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA), University of PNG and Amnesty International. He is currently CEO for Taimi Media Network in Tonga.
Project XIX national counterpart Vicky Lepou, lecturing in Journalism at the National University of Samoa also forms part of the training team.
“The Courage under Fire workshop comes at a critical time for free speech for Pacific journalists, and the insights and information which Deborah, Kalafi and Vicky will bring to the table make an ideal mix for meeting the needs of our training group,” says Project XIX facilitator Lisa Williams-Lahari.
“As journalists, it’s good to turn the lens inwards and examine ourselves as much as we put the spotlight on others. These events always provide that opportunity.
"But our trainers are also geared to help us take journalism to the next level, in terms of speaking out in creative ways - not just to protect the rights of people to be informed, but the right of the next generation of journalists to report what Pacific people think on issues, without fear or favour.”
“In this respect, we are especially honoured to have NUS journalism students as part of our regional workshop group,” says Lahari, “and we look forward to the energy and experiences of our future media managers as we also debate and chew through the current real-life situation of newsroom issues around article XIX.”
While Muir and Moala will be focussing on sessions around freedom of expression and the right to information, the PFF facilitator is keen to develop strategies from the discussions which will strengthen the relatively new Pacific Freedom Forum. Lahari, from her own background as a Pacific journalist, advocate and trainer, says for this event, she has “picked up a unique air of excitement around the current activity which is good to see. It bodes well for ownership and involvement by Pacific journalists in their own industry ‘family’.
"Most of us are part of an online network. We are looking forward to meeting each other and our chair Susuve Laumaea for the first time, at this meeting!”.
The Project XIX: Building courage under fire event is the first regional activity of its kind initiated by the Pacific Freedom Forum; and was made possible by a grant from UNESCO, with support from the SPC Regional Media Centre and the global freedom of expression body IFEX, under its Outreach program.
It was relocated from Fiji to Samoa after new ‘emergency laws’ made it impossible to hold an open and free media forum there.
Journalists and observers from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu will be representing their organisations for the May 6-8 event, which will close with a special program hosted by UNESCO and the Journalists Association of Western Samoa (JAWS).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.