Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Talofa to CIJA

JAWS would like to say talofa to the Journalists of the beautiful Cook Islands and the soon to be reformed Cook Islands Journalists Association (CIJA). Please find below the first entry on their new weblog, started by Jason Brown.

Monday, May 29, 2006
Welcome to the cija weblog site!
Following a meeting today at Mama's Cafe, four of roughly 20 journalists in the Cook Islands decided to rebuild the national journalists association. Meetings will be held for an hour each Monday at Mama's Cafe to work towards this goal. Industry issues including training and professional development will be the focus of members as they rebuild the association.

Weblog url:

Monday, May 22, 2006

Samoa bans Da Vinci

[The Age] The Pacific island nation of Samoa has banned The Da Vinci Code after church leaders frowned on the film about a fictional Catholic conspiracy.
Samoa's principal censor banned the Ron Howard movie based on the best-selling Dan Brown novel from cinema, DVD and video rental and television broadcast, Radio New Zealand International reported.
The decision was made after leaders of the Samoa Council of Churches watched a weekend preview of the Da Vinci Code in the country's only cinema at the government's invitation.
The Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Samoa, Alapati Mataeliga, said the film would affect the beliefs of young people whose faith was not strong.
Magik cinema owner Rudolf Keil told the broadcaster the ban breached Samoans' human rights.
The censor said his decision was made according to Samoa's constitution and amendments to nation's film act.
Samoa has been staunchly Christian since missionaries arrived in the 19th century and has a reputation for being the Bible belt of the Pacific.
A Catholic organisation in neighbouring Fiji has called for a similar ban on The Da Vinci Code, which is screening at a cinema in the capital Suva.
"I question the wisdom in approving this movie, given the widespread criticisms it attracted worldwide," Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights Movement spokesman Kelepi Lesi said.
"The movie undermines the very heart of the Christian belief and the Film Censor Board, in giving the green light for public screening, confirms it's insensitive to our culture," Lesi told the Fiji Sun.

Courtesy of:

Freedom of the Press Under Attack in US

ABC News reported on Monday that a senior federal law enforcement had revealed that the government is now tracking phone calls made by journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post and ABC News. We speak with Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter at ABC News.
On Monday, ABC News reported the government is tracking the phone numbers dialed from major news organizations in an effort to root out confidential government sources that speak to reporters. The media groups include the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News itself. Government leaks have led to front-page stories detailing the Bush administration’s spy program and the CIA’s network of secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The leaks have greatly angered Bush administration officials.
This revelation comes on the heels of last week’s disclosure that three of the country’s largest telecom companies handed over millions of phone call records to help the National Security Agency build the world’s largest database, comes a new revelation.
We’re joined now by the ABC News reporter who broke this story – someone who may well be a target of this new phase of government monitoring himself. Brian Ross is the Chief Investigative reporter for ABC News. He joins us on the line from New York.

Brian Ross, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News

Monday, May 15, 2006

Calling for URGENT nominations

Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists' Fellowship Programme 2006

From UN via Abel Caine

Greetings from Australia.
I am writing to ask for your feedback and suggestions on Samoan media. Samoa has been selected to participate in the annual Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists' Fellowship Programme, sponsored by UN-DPI, which will take place at UN Headquarters in September/October this year.
As such, UNIC Sydney/Canberra is looking to nominate four journalists from Samoa, one of whom will be selected to participate. Two of these nominees must be women. I'm also checking with our colleagues from ADB, World Bank and UNHCR.

Best regards

Jennie Watson
United Nations Information Centre - Australia and the Pacific


[UN Press Release] The training programme for junior media professionals from developing and transition countries concluded at United Nations Headquarters today. The purpose of the programme is to help young professionals better understand the challenges faced by the United Nations and to assist them in reporting on global issues after they return to their home countries.
The six-week programme included visits to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and to leading media and academic institutions in Atlanta, New York and New Jersey. At the United Nations, senior officials from the Secretariat, the United Nations system and Member States briefed the journalists on a wide range of subjects.

UN honours staff killed in Baghdad

[] The United Nations has decided to rename its annual training programme for young journalists in honour of Reham Al-Farra, one of the staff members killed in last month’s terrorist bombing of the UN’s headquarters in Baghdad and the first female daily political columnist in her native Jordan. The training programme, which brings journalists from developing countries to UN Headquarters in New York, will be renamed the Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalists' Fellowship Programme, Shashi Tharoor, the head of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), which runs the annual workshop, said in a letter to Ms. Al-Farra's mother. "I believe this Fellowship will be a fitting memorial to a young woman who was clearly committed not only to her profession of journalism but also to her mission to help make the world a better place," he wrote. "It will, I hope, honour her memory and remind us of the inspiration she gave to us all."
On the one month anniversary of the 19 August bomb blast at the Canal Hotel, Secretary-General Kofi Annan paid tribute to Ms. Al-Farra during a memorial ceremony for those killed, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Iraq, and 20 others. "You chose to work for the United Nations because you wanted to do something for others," the Secretary-General said. "You went to Iraq to make a contribution to the lives of your Arab brothers and sisters. It is their loss as much as ours that you were denied the chance to do that." In mid-August, Ms. Al-Farra, 29, went to Baghdad from New York, where she worked on the Arabic-language version of the UN News Centre web site, to take up temporary duties in the Office of the Spokesman for the Special Representative. Before joining the UN earlier this year, Ms. Al-Farra was the first female daily political columnist writing for Al Arab Al Yawm, a prominent newspaper in Amman. She had also been active at the Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists.

Please forward nominations to as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Earthquake and Tsunami warning marks WPFD in Samoa

[UNESCO News] The Journalism Association of Samoa (JAWS) celebrated World Press Freedom Day despite the delay caused by a tsunami warning. A strong earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday 3rd May resulted in a tsunami warning for several Pacific Island Countries including Samoa. The Government declared a state of emergency asking everyone to stay home.
World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) celebrations scheduled for 9am on Wednesday were deferred to 5:00pm on the same day to keep the momentum of the day going. Guests of honour for the celebrations including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were unable to attend as they served on the National Disaster Committee. JAWS welcomed the participation of the third guest of honour, Hon. Mulitalo Sealiimalietoa Siafausa Vui, Minister for Information and Communication Technology, who diligently attended the postponed morning session and dropped in for the evening session.

Celebrations began in the fa’a Samoa (Samoan Way) tradition with an opening prayer by the Rev Moli Moli, a former Journalism student whom in his prayer thanked God for the Freedom of the Press as it allows for freedom of the people. The President of JAWS, Uale Papalii Taimalelagi, made a welcoming address acknowledging the importance of WPFD in Samoa and its role in ensuring a fair and just Government. That was followed by a keynote address by Abel Caine, Adviser for Communication & Information at UNESCO.

Three speakers from different schools spoke on the theme of the day, media, development and poverty eradication. Martin Mariota, a Theological student compared the role of the press to that of Jesus, a voice for the people and an advocate. According to Mariota, the role should be righteous, fair and objective, something the media should strive for constantly. Bryolle Taimalelagi, a young Samoan man spoke on the importance of cultural and Christian principles in the media. He said both aspects of Samoa, if used wisely by the media will make a better society. The Notable Speech of the evening, by youngest participant, Ms. Sulesa Simanu, emphazised the 2006 WPFD theme of the role media in development and eradicating poverty. “If the press or the media is free, informative and fair, Samoans will know how to plant fruits and vegetables, they will know who to plant the nonu and market it overseas, Samoans will know how to take care of cows and sheep.” She added: “And if Samoa is aware of all these things and reap from the knowledge of these livelihoods and development; we will have plenty of food, every child will have a good education, we will all live in good houses.” Ultimately according to Sulesa, health will improve and that means, “Our people will live happy and healthy.” A copy of the speech and other WPFD articles are available on the JAWS website. The celebrations ended with a small get together of local Journalists and partners in the media to celebrate the one day devoted to our right to write, World Press Freedom Day translated Aso Faapitoa mo le Saolotoga o Ala Faasalalau ma le au Tusitala I le Lalolagi.

This article courtesy of UNESCO News:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

JAWS Editor Profile - Savea Sano Malifa

Savea Sano Malifa is the editor and publisher of the Samoa Observer.

The paper has faced many lawsuits because of its critical reporting. Malifa has been assaulted for his work, and he and his family have received death threats. Savea Sano Malifa is the editor and publisher of the Samoa Observer, Samoa’s only independent daily newspaper. Since its founding in 1978, the Observer has repeatedly fallen afoul of the government for its exposés of government corruption. Malifa and his family have received death threats. His paper has faced a number of lawsuits over the years, and government advertising was withdrawn in an attempt to silence the Observer’s critical reporting.

Malifa, who is also a poet, playwright and novelist of renown, studied engineering in Wellington, New Zealand, but later changed to a career in journalism. He founded the Samoa Observer as a weekly in October 1978 and started a second publication, the Sunday Samoan, with his wife, Jean, in 1987.In April 1994, the Observer’s editorial offices and printing press were destroyed in a suspicious fire in what many believed was retaliation for the paper’s reporting on allegations of government corruption. The Observer’s publication frequency had to be reduced to two editions a week, but the paper went back to daily publication in November 1994.

Since the beginning, Malifa has faced a number of civil and criminal libel actions brought by the prime minister, government officials and business leaders. He was assaulted by relatives of a government minister, and death threats were made to Malifa and his family. In 1996 all official advertising was withdrawn and given to newspapers directly linked to the government.The Observer rocked the government in April 1997 when it uncovered a scandal involving the alleged sale of Samoan passports in Hong Kong. The ensuing political crisis led to public demonstrations against the government and angered Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana, who called for regulations to license and control the press.In 1997 Tofilau brought criminal defamation proceedings against Malifa and his editor after the paper allegedly defamed the prime minister’s political and personal reputation. He also threatened to back legislation allowing the government to close newspapers for stirring up trouble. However, bringing some good news for press freedom, the Supreme Court ruled in August 1999 that the criminal libel case against the Observer should be discontinued. The Samoan government announced in May 1998 that top officials from the prime minister to the leaders of state corporations could use public funds to pursue civil libel claims against the media. As a result, suits brought by officials upset by critical news coverage became a painful routine for the Observer. In September 1998 the Supreme Court awarded Prime Minister Tofilau a US$40,000 judgment against the paper. Tofilau had sued the paper for defamation because of a 1997 story claiming that public funds were used to upgrade a hotel owned by the prime minister’s children. After the ruling Malifa feared that mounting legal fees could force him to sell his paper.

Malifa was awarded the Pacific Islands News Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 1994. He received both the Commonwealth Press Union’s Astor Award for Press Freedom and the Index on Censorship press freedom award in recognition of his courage and commitment to the principles of free expression.Some in the Samoan media were hoping for a more relaxed approach from the government after Tofilau, suffering from liver cancer, stepped down in November 1998. However, such hopes were not immediately forthcoming as the new prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, criticized the Commonwealth Press Union and Index on Censorship for giving awards to the Observer. He said that the Samoan government should have been the recipient of both awards for allowing the newspaper to be published freely in the country.“We all know that a vigilant press is vital to the survival of freedom of opinion. Without it there can be no democracy. This freedom is the sustenance for the mind,” Malifa said upon receiving the Astor Award at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. “And this freedom is even more needed in small countries in the Pacific where I come from. This is because our governments are young and our economies very fragile. Because some of them are run by unprincipled men with one-track visions, and to many of them, the temptation to get rich quickly at the expense of others is overpowering. ... This is why their dominating desire is to smother press freedom, so that it is kept out of the way, completely.”

JAWS Input:
Samoa Observer has since thrived, with New Zealand and American Samoa Publications. In the last few years the Monday Observer was introduced thus making it a complete daily newspaper. Savea continues to contribute to eliminating corruption and encouraging transparancy and accountability in Samoa.

Article Courtesy of International Press Institute with input by JAWS.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Notable Speech WPFD 2006

Sulesa Simanu
Maluafo College

Media, Development and Poverty Eradication in Samoa.

Today, I would like to thank God, it is indeed a joyous day, a day where the freedom of the press is celebrated around the world. Today, we celebrate our freedom, my freedom and our freedom and God given right of expression through the media.
Today is an important day for democracy in the world. It is of course of utmost value to Journalists who suppressed, who cannot express themselves freely and especially those under Governments who do not allow them to do so.
In some countries Journalists have been imprisoned, killed and publicly shunned. But let me ask a question: What is the true meaning of Media, Development and Poverty Eradication?
Or should I say, "How can the media assist in the development of a country and therefore take away poverty?
The different forms of media are really important to the development of any country. The media delivers written information and publicises methods, skills and other useful details about successful means of livelihoods. As we all know this is the journey to development and this of course means a healthy economy. Our people will live well, happy and healthy and poverty will be eradicated.
If the press or the media is free, informative and fair, Samoans will know how to plant fruits and vegetables, they will know who to plant the nonu and market it overseas, Samoans will know how to take care of cows and sheep. Samoans will also know how to nurture and harvest useful sea creatures such as clams and market it overseas. They will also be aware and knowledgeable in the establishment of small businesses.
And if Samoa is aware of all these things and reap from the knowledge of these livelihoods and development;
- We will have plenty of food
- Every child will have a good education
- We will all live in good houses
- Health will improve and that means our people will live happy and healthy
Events are occurring around the world and in our country. They say there is no freedom of the press and journalists are being taken to court and suppressed. But be reminded that Samoa is a free and democratic nation. We are founded on God through Christianity. We are unique and differ greatly from other countries in the word, with our culture, the FaaSamoa and respect, the faaaloalo.
If someone should exercise their freedom of expression and discuss sex through the media I feel there are respectful ways to express these issues. We have to take into consideration that Head of State is listening, reading and watching, that our mothers and fathers, that servants of God and that the whole country are listening, reading and watching the media. We are culture with values, we have the sacred relationship between man and woman and this is exactly why we are unique.
We are a Christian country with a culture of respect and some might say, " Samoa is the Israel of the Pacific." There is an article in the Constitution, which addresses defamation supported by facts and lawful evidence.Today I feel we should thank God. Freedom of the Press is our freedom. The Media assists in the development of our livelihoods, which leads to the eradication of poverty. However this Freedom should be observed with caution, attack the issue but mind the manner in which you do it. Please do not let your freedom as a Journalist take away your values as a Samoan, let there be a fine line between freedom of the press and respect for others, because after all, we are a respectful nation.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

WPFD Message from Director General

Koïchiro Matsuura

World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to remind the world of the importance of protecting the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without these rights, democracy cannot prevail and development remains unattainable. Independent, free and pluralistic media have a crucial role to play in the good governance of democratic societies, by ensuring transparency and accountability, promoting participation and the rule of law, and contributing to the fight against poverty.
UNESCO has decided to pay tribute to this critical role played by the media in promoting democracy and good governance by choosing ‘Media and Good Governance’ as the key theme for this year’s celebration.
Through the Millennium Declaration, United Nations Member States expressed their strong, unanimous and explicit support of democratic and participatory governance and recognized free and open media as one of the tools necessary to achieve this goal. The Millennium Declaration affirms that Member States “will spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law” and goes on to resolve “to strengthen the capacity of all countries to implement the principles and practices of democracy and respect for human rights”.
Good governance may be impeded by the blight of corruption, which disrupts the free flow of information, undermines accountability for decisions and discourages greater participation in the decision-making process. Accurate and professional reporting is often the only recourse that society has to combat corruption. Journalists need the support of the larger society to eliminate hindrances to accurate reporting. Furthermore, pledges to increase transparency and accountability in public administration must be backed up with laws granting full access to areas of information in the public interest. The provision of a functioning legal infrastructure encourages independent and pluralistic media to flourish and is one of the preconditions for good governance.
Ensuring the right to press freedom around the world, therefore, should be regarded as a priority. Sadly, all too often, journalists lack the independence required to expose cases of corruption or the abuse of power, to denounce human rights violations and to facilitate an open dialogue between the state and civil society. Government measures to control the media, either directly or indirectly, have many motivations but ultimately they have a common outcome, namely, democracy as a practice or an aspiration is undermined.
Journalists may be exposed to physical danger when pursuing their profession. Some become the victims of violence because they bring into the open what some people want hidden; in other cases, journalists are at risk because they are reporting from areas of armed conflict. A new and disquieting development is the abduction of journalists and turning them into hostages; this, too, is an attack on freedom of speech and media freedom. Journalists and media staff deserve to have conditions of reasonable safety wherever they may be working in the world. According to professional organizations, 2004 and the beginning of 2005 have been the worst period in a decade in terms of the numbers of journalists killed, with more than 70 journalists and media workers losing their lives. Hundreds more receive death threats, many are intimidated, and some are held hostage or tortured for exercising their profession. These acts are unconscionable not only because they violate the human rights of individuals but also because they poison the well-spring of good governance and democracy, namely, the flow of accurate and reliable information.
Thus, freedom of the press should not be viewed solely as the freedom of journalists to report and comment. Instead, it is strongly correlated with the public’s right of access to knowledge and information. Given the media’s crucial role in disseminating knowledge and information, it is vital that media outlets and professional associations encourage accurate, professional and ethical reporting. This can be done by establishing voluntary codes of conduct, providing training for journalists and setting up mechanisms of self-regulation.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, let us remember that free and pluralistic media provide a solid foundation for good governance, development and peace. A commitment to removing all obstacles to press freedom and improving the conditions for independent and professional journalism is therefore essential and we encourage both Member States and media professionals to strengthen their efforts in this direction. We pay homage to the journalists who have put their lives or freedom at risk in order to provide the public with accurate and independent information. Their professionalism and courage constitute an invaluable contribution to the defence of the basic rights and freedoms of everyone.