Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Media gag not constitutional – PFF


“Public servants owe their loyalty to the public who pay the bills, not bureaucrats who spend their taxes” – PFF

jacques gideon acting psc vanuatu

Vanuatu threat :

Acting PSC Secretary Jacques
Gideon says public servants posting
comments on social media face
“disciplinary” action for airing
“dirty laundry” in public. Photo / Vanuatu Daily Post



Warning public servants against making public statements goes against fundamentals of public service, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“We call on the acting head to withdraw their media gag,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.

“Public servants owe their loyalty to the public who pay the bills, not bureaucrats who spend their taxes,” says Miller.


Earlier this month, Jacques Gideon, the Acting Secretary of the Office of Public Service Commission, warned public servants against using social media to express concerns.

He threatened “disciplinary action” under PSC regulations against those who speak out.

Miller rejected the reported PSC statement that public servants expressing an opinion on social media was airing “dirty laundry” in public.

Laws of the land

Miller says senior officials need to reread the laws of the land.

Vanuatu constitutional provisions guarantee freedom of expression, and demand that all citizens fulfil their duty to safeguard national wealth, resources and environment in the interests of present and future generations.

“This is only possible if all citizens, including public servants, can speak their minds fairly and freely, without fear of prosecution or persecution,” says Miller.


Social networks are now an accepted part of the media and governance landscape.

Senior government officials need to embrace that, rather than fight history, says Miller.

Vanuatu recently became the second Pacific nation to adopt freedom of information laws. 



Media gag on public servants by PSC

Vanuatu constitution

. . .

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Deadline looms on Papua press blocks - PFF


‘The clock ticks’ – Islands Business magazine notes the fast approaching deadline for World Press Freedom Day events in Indonesia, on 3rd May 2016, to be hosted in Jakarta. Photo / Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)


Indonesia has less than three months to deliver "full and free" press access to Papua provinces, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Jakarta risks global condemnation if it continues to ignore the facts," warns PFF Chair Monica Miller.

"A visit last month by media freedom campaigners proves that access for Papua press is still far from full and free", she says.


An eight person delegation from MFCI, the Media Freedom Committee Indonesia, visited the Papua towns of Jayapura, Merauke and Timika, between 29th January to 3rd February.

Their reported findings include :

- Ten cases of violence against journalists that are still not resolved.

- Only 16 foreign press were given permits to visit Papua last year, with 11 forced to accept government guides. 

- Different treatment from Indonesian officials for indigenous journalists versus Indonesian journalists - such as stigmatisation and intimidation of "OAP" - 'original Papua persons'.

- Local press still need police permits to cover public gatherings, including protests.

- Women journalists routinely suffer bullying and sexual harassment from government sources, but rarely report it to police because they "take it for granted."

- In an atmosphere of surveillance, intimidation and harassment, media outlets find it impossible to recruit new reporters. One training session for newcomers saw 30 people on the first day, 12 the second day and none the third.

- Business models threaten independence of Papua media, including in Timika, where ad revenues are sourced from Freeport mine, its subsidiaries and local government.

- Threats against independence include pressure from "certain parties" on mass media not to cover environmental issues.

- Isolation from other media due to a lack of access to communications resources causes ethical lapses.

Jurnalis di Papua Belum Bebas dari Intimidasi
Members of the Media Freedom Committee Indonesia present findings from their visit to three towns in Papua. Photo / WAN-IFRA


Supported by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, under its Strengthening Media and Society programme, the MFCI visit was also backed by the Denmark ministry of Foreign Affairs.

PFF welcomes the input from WAN-IFRA, and praises the leadership role played by Denmark.

"Other diplomatic partners in Jakarta need to do much more to support press freedom," says Miller.


"Their continued silence on abuses against the press and other human rights compares shamefully with billions in profit being made from Papua by outside interests."

Findings from the MFCI visit join recent wide concern expressed about Indonesia blocking access to 800,000 websites.

Among blocked sites is SuaraPapua - the Voice of Papua - a news outlet exposing human rights abuses.


PFF praises LBH Pers, the Legal Aid Institute for the Press, for representing SuaraPapua as a "voice for voiceless."

Last year, PFF laid down a deadline for open access to Papua, in the lead up to Indonesia hosting World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2017.

The deadline was reportedly rejected by a minor official at the Indonesian embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.

Atmosphere dissemination programs implemented reporting Papua Indonesia Team MFC-WAN IFRA, Saturday (01/04/2017).
Indonesia media members delve into the MCFI findings, at the Aone Hotel, central Jakarta. Photo / WAN-IFRA


However, PFF has not been able to get confirmation of the alleged rejection from Jakarta.

"Instead of speeding up preparations for World Press Freedom Day, Jakarta appears to be slowing down", says Miller.

"Make no mistake, Jakarta needs to think very, very carefully about its continued failure to fulfil its own promises, its own guarantees for media freedom under the Indonesian constitution, and its signature to many international treaties."


Ahead of #WPFD2017, PFF is calling on journalists everywhere to focus attention on one of the world's least reported areas.

"This year, global journalists must all prove themselves wantoks of the Papua press", she says.

Indonesia improved eight places between 2015 and 2016 on the RSF, Reporters Sans Frontiers World Press Freedom Index, at 130 of 180 countries, but is still coded red for a generally “bad” situation.


Most journalists discriminated against in Papua
http://suarapapua.com/…/jurnalis-papua-sering-didiskrimina…/ (Indonesian)

Indonesia fails media test in West Papua
https://awpasydneynews.blogspot.co.nz/…/indonesia-fails-med… (English)

A voice from Papua
https://www.wan-ifra.org/…/…/05/a-voice-from-papua-indonesia (English)

In Papua, sexual harassment often occurs against women journalists
http://tabloidjubi.com/artikel-3458--di-papua-pelecehan-sex… (Indonesian)

Journalists in Papua Not Free of Bullying
http://makassar.tribunnews.com/…/jurnalis-di-papua-tak-terl… (Indonesian)

Jakarta keeps strong grip on Papua as rallies intensify
http://www.thejakartapost.com/…/jakarta-keeps-strong-grip-o… (English)

Releasing Papua perspectives: Eight Indonesian journalists report their journey
http://www.tribunnews.com/…/perspektif-pers-dari-tanah-papu… (Indonesian)

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