Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- Updated arrangements for the Pacific Islands News Association biennial meeting have been welcomed by the Pacific Freedom Forum, but the regional media monitoring network is concerned over the potential pitfalls of hosting the event in Fiji.
The Pacific Islands
News Association which has its coordinator, secretariat and regional news
service based in Fiji's capital city, announced this week it would be
postponing its 2011 Pacific Media Summit til early 2012 and relocating it from host country
Papua New Guinea.
"Many PFF members trace their active advocacy of media freedom back to PINA, which is why we are concerned that media freedom will not be a leading agenda item given the current situation in Fiji" says PFF Chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea.
"We support the optimism with which some colleagues have greeted the news. But a mutual dialogue best happens where both sides feel free to speak from their hearts, and skilled mediation is present," says Gabi. "As we saw in PINA 2009, the attendance by Fiji military personnel sparked a walkout and changed the tone of the whole event. What will happen next year?"
Under the media decree application process for a regional media meeting , every session of PINA 2012, every speaker presenting and the name of every delegate planning to attend has to be vetted by the regime, who can also be there 'monitoring' what is said.
Since April 2009, emergency
regulations have suspended media freedom and the right to peaceful assembly,
installed military censors in newsrooms, and led to a media decree which
controls who can practice journalism and how they work. The last major media conference event
hosted by Fiji was the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcast Development event in July 2009. Local media were notably absent, and were largely represented by state media and
military information officers.
Regional media events where freedom of expression has
featured, originally planned for Fiji around World Press Freedom Day, have
twice been relocated to Samoa. The last event, planned for World
Press Freedom Day in May 2011, had its application rejected without explanation by Fiji's Ministry of
Information just days after organisers were advised it had been accepted.
"PFF have previously called for a regional media mission to Fiji to allow for some direct and frank dialogue with the regime, Fiji's people, and our media colleagues," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa, "If having PINA 2012 in Suva can help to progress such a mission without compromising its independence, we would welcome it."--ENDS
Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea
Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.