Sunday, 15 November 2009

UK law changes should prompt defamation review in Pacific: PFF

Nov 16, 2009:The Pacific Freedom Forum welcomes news of law changes dropping criminal defamation in the United Kingdom, as reported by media freedom organisation Article 19. "Pacific lawmakers and leaders in nations where criminal defamation still exists should look at doing the same and we would welcome and support a review building on the scoping done by the AusAID 'Informing Ctitizens' report of 2005," says PFF Chair Susuve Laumaea, of Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea: ‘Aliens’ story needs independent review, says PFF

Nov 16, 2009: Papua New Guinea’s Post Courier daily newspaper is being urged by the Pacific freedom Forum to seek an independent review into a story which turned out to be a journalistic nightmare.
The Post Courier's November 10 front page '16,000 Aliens' headline and news story has caused controversy in Papua New Guinea, where a Parliamentary inquiry is being held into widespread anti-Asian race riots in May. The report placed the Philippines ambassador to Port Moresby Shirley Ho-Vicario before the committee on Friday 6 November, claiming she said out of 19,000 Filipinos in Papua New Guinea, 16,000
are illegal immigrants. Another paragraph said inquiry member MP Phillip Kikila had ‘confirmed’ the situation. Both the ambassador and the chair of the inquiry have since verified that she has never appeared before the inquiry. A follow up story printed by rival newspaper The National says the actual figures of
Filipinos in PNG is 10,120 in total with about 2,850 ‘illegals’. PFF Chair Susuve Laumaea of PNG says an independent review would help "address questions about how the media does its work and reassure the
public that when journalists get it wrong, we have a process in placefor getting a story back on track."
“Blame for the misreporting is being shifted to the MP mentioned in the initial report. But coverage of a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Asian riots has to focus on nailing the basics of journalism: getting the facts right. This is especially critical when reporting such an issue to a community already dealing with unemployment, violence and law enforcement problems,” he says.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Fiji regime, the world is watching -- PFF

November 5th 2009 – The illegal detention,assault and deportation of respected and leading Pacific academic Professor Brij Lal from Fiji (left)  must be strongly condemned by the Pacific and global community, says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.
Sources in Fiji confirmed Professor Lal was taken without reason late yesterday afternoon from his Suva Point home where his wife Dr Padma Lal resides. Dr Padma is based in Suva as the Chief Technical Advisor to the Oceania office of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It was not until 7pm that the military confirmation on her husband’s situation came when the Australian embassy received information that Professor Lal, a Fiji-born Australian citizen, would be deported on the next available flight.
Professor Lal becomes the first academic to be detained and deported from Fiji. Just hours before his detention, he was on ABC Radio being asked his views on the Fiji situation, after the military regime gave marching orders to the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners
this week.
"We are saddened and shocked by reports that Professor Lal was abused and threatened. An internationally renowned academic whose life’s work has been the history of Fiji; is plucked from his home without reason and is subjected to abuse to the extent that his ‘signature’ glasses are smashed during a detention. One would expect his interrogating officers to have maintained a minimum standard of conduct when telling detainees their views are unpopular and unwelcome," says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.
"The military regime must know the world is watching in disgust as free speech is ripped, through acts such as this, from the heart of Fiji."
"Free speech is a basic and universally acknowledged human right. Professor Lal gave an expert opinion and as a leading Pacific scholar, was well within his rights to do so," he says.