Friday, March 14, 2008

PYOR Seminar next week

JAWS in partnership up with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will be hosting a training seminar next week on environment reporting.
Next weeks training will focus specifically on the Pacific Year of the Reef and how Reporters can better cover the annual commemoration.
More details on the seminar will be posted next week.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

PINA rejects petition claims to Rudd

Below is a statement made by the Pacific Islands News Association after a report appeared on The National PNG alleging that PINA President Joseph Ealedona was to submit a petition by Journalists to the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd who will be visiting Port Moresby soon.

Kevin Rudd Australia PM and Joseph Ealedona President of PINA. (Photos by ABC and Newsline)

JAWS expreses full endorsement of the statement below:


The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) will not petition the Australian Government to remove Fiji from participating in the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) in the Solomon Islands as suggested by a group of Pacific journalists.

President Joseph Ealedona says the removal of Fiji from RAMSI is an issue for regional governments. PINA’s is to raise its concerns relating to media freedom and freedom of expression.

Mr Ealedona’s comments follow a front page story in the Papua New Guinea National Newspaper indicating the PINA president would present a petition to the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to remove Fiji from RAMSI. Mr Rudd is currently touring PNG.

“I have formally requested an audience with the Australian Prime Minister through the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby but it’ll depend on Mr Rudd’s timetable,” Mr Ealedona said.

The PINA president says letters of concern are also being sent to the Governments of PNG and New Zealand to put pressure on the Interim Fiji Government to change its hard-line stance against media freedom in Fiji.

“PINA has also written to the Fiji government stating its concern on the deportation of Fiji Sun Editor in Chief Mr Russell Hunter and has requested that Mr Hunter be allowed back into Fiji.”

Mr Ealedona has at the same time urged the media in the region to approach the matter sensibly and use it as a stepping stone to an all-out effort to strengthen and advocate for a free media that is objective and responsible to the people of the region….ENDS

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Editorial Opinion from Samoa on Hunter deportation

Editor in Chief of Samoa Observer, Savea Sano Malifa wrote a passionate editorial piece in todays Sunday Samoa condemning the actions of the Fiji interim Government in deporting Hunter.
Followed by that is an Editorial by Editor of Newsline Samoa Newspaper, Cherelle Jackson who also paid tribute to the deported Hunter.
The pieces are as follows, courtesy of and

Banning press freedom opens door wide to dictatorship

This morning as we’re preparing to go to church, let’s sit down for a moment and think seriously about this little story.
It is somewhere in the night when your family is asleep and there’s a knock on the door. You have no idea who the person knocking from outside is. You get up half-heartedly, and drowsily you go over and open the door.
The next thing you know is that you are told you have to go to the military barracks for questioning. You have no idea what is going on and you are not allowed to know. You are not even allowed to ask questions.
You are forcibly led to the waiting car without saying a word to your wife and children who are asleep, and the car speeds away. But instead of it going to the barracks, it veers off in the direction of a distant airport, four hours away.
Suddenly it hits you that you are being abducted by military police. During the ride while some of your kidnappers dose off, one of them asks for your cel phone. You hand it over and he keeps it.

You soon realise that you are deliberately being denied access to anyone in the world, including your children and wife who must be worried sick about whether you are alive of dead.
At the airport you are whizzed through Customs and Immigration, and herded like a criminal on the plane that will take you away from your home and your family that you love so very much.
On the plane you mull over the dismal knowledge that all you have that you can call your own is the shirt on your back, and there isn’t even a penny in your pocket. You are effectively a man without a family and a home. In brief, a nobody.
Imagine all that and you can then perhaps feel what Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter went through when he was abducted by Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Baniamarama’s military men last week.
So what do you think? What would you do if someone drags you away in the middle of the night from your wife and children knowing you have done nothing wrong, and force you to do things against your will?
Would you refuse to go? Would you demand an explanation? Or would you become murderous? Mr Hunter did none of these things. He went peacefully.

Indeed, did Mr Hunter, whose job is to ensure that Fijian citizens are well-informed, become knowledgeable and enjoy their democratic rights like their freedom to express their opinions, deserve such horrible treatment?
Do you think we should entertain ourselves here in Samoa with the sort of night-time fear that dictator Baniamarama is implanting so pervasively in the minds of the Fijian people?
How can such a man rest at night after declaring his intention is to spare his people from the evil called corruption, when he himself is the personification of evil?
By deliberately stomping on press freedom which is the very tool that can help him achieve his goal, Baniamarama is not only a dictator but an idiot as well.
We know. Baniamaram’s fans in this country are probably hollering with sarcastic glee that their idol doesn’t give a hoot about what we say in this column. Well, that’s alright. It only shows that although they have eyes they cannot see.
Just look around us this very minute. Don’t you see Baniamaram’s rousing dictatorship taking shape slowly but surely in the halls of power in Samoa today?

Why are some staunch supporters of the powerful Human Rights Protection Party distancing themselves from the government and its seemingly ill-conceived RHD bill?
We know why. Because they see Frank Baniamarama’s thinking emerging in the HRPP hierarchy and they’re scared; they love their country so much that they want nothing to do with a law that will destroy it. That’s right. They don’t want their hands smeared with blood when this RHD mess becomes a legal entity.
But that is exactly what is happening in Fiji today. It is a country being ruled by a dictator with blood in his hands, and the country is dying slowly from self-imposed strangulation.
Out there at Siumu, the matai leadership is suppressing press freedom and the public’s right to know. They’ve imposed a ban on reporting what’s happening with their land dispute with the government.
And yet when the dispute emerged some years ago, the first place they went to was the press. They wanted free publicity and they were given it. How short of memory some people can get!
Then along the way their lawyer threatened to sue this newspaper and demanded an apology. And just recently they’ve been sending over press releases which they presumably wanted published free of charge, as though nothing untoward has happened.

It’s a shame. After hundreds of thousands of Tala have been spent on this dispute, not a sign of an end can be seen. So it seems as if the Siumu people should sit up and take a hard look. They should think hard.
And it is not the press’ fault that they’re getting nowhere with their dispute. They should look closer to home. The Siumu leadership should be told that banning press freedom is not the solution but the beginning of a more formidable problem; it opens the door wide to dictatorship.
But never mind. This newspaper will from now on honour Siumu’s press ban. Hard as it is to imagine that the free flow of information is now being sullied and curtailed, we will desist from covering Siumu’s dispute.
So what do you think? Do you want Samoa to be ruled like Siumu and Fiji? We don’t think so.
Freedom is sacrosanct. That is the rule. And that should remain Samoa’s sacred rule.
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.

Published: 2 March 2008
Source: Samoa Observer Newspaper

Bainimarama, come on man!

Two months ago this writer met interim Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in his office.
The man, dressed in a sulu and a simple western style shirt was less domineering in person than in reputation.
It felt strange, to be so close to someone who had already stirred up so much trouble in the region.
We were there, five of us, all Board members of the Pacific Island News Association (PINA) to appeal for the rights of Journalists in Fiji, and those visiting the country.
You see, already, the media workers in Fiji were being silenced, were gagged, thrown behind bars and abused for doing their jobs, for revealing some truths, and Bainimarama, was not exactly discouraging the military from doing so, in fact, in some instances, the suppression was prompted by his direct orders.
So it was therefore with apprehension that we sat with this man, in his office, requesting if not begging to let Journalists do their jobs, to let the Fijian media operate without suppression.
“Well it’s ok if they do their jobs, as long as they are not biased,” the Commodore said.
“Sir in any Government, regardless of how it came about, there is a role to be played by the media,” I asserted.
Bainimarama went on to explain that maybe his interim Government did fail in one respect.
“Yes when we decided to take over, we didn’t have a media plan,” he said with a frown on his face.
Interesting comment, now how does one write a media strategy for the taking over of ones Government.
Let’s see, Step one: Close down all media operators. Step two: Replace them with puppets. Step three: Gag all Journalists who believe otherwise. Step four: What media?
Simply put, you can’t expect an integral part of democracy to sit still when democracy takes a beating, freedom of expression is a right, and the media exists to ascertain that right.
It is therefore with great sadness, that Bainimaramas promises that one afternoon to the five of us, the representatives of media in the region, were but empty as he turns around and deports the Editor in Chief of Fiji Sun, Russell Hunter for merely exercising his role as an informant to the people.
President of PINA, Joseph Ealedona said in the PINA statement: “The media is the voice of the people. It is obliged to report the truth and or report the grievances and concerns of citizens. Those who are offended also have the right to respond.”
The deportation of Hunter is a misuse of power to the highest degree, it is an infringement to one of the founding principles of any free society, which is freedom of expression, and it is insult to human logic and fairness.
When will this madness end?
Bainimarama, for lack of better words, come on man, let the media do their work.
Newsline supports PINA in urging the media in Fiji to remain vigilant and to respond professionally without any bias and prejudice.
The Pacific is no place for suppression.

Manuia le Aso.

Published: 27 Feb 2008
Source: Newsline Samoa Newspaper

JAWS for Hunter

Members and Executive of JAWS agrees that the deportation of Russell Hunter is a direct attack on Press Freedom in the Pacific Region.
Journalists and Editors must not suffer for performing their duties as informers of the public and voice of the people.

Hunter performed his duties observing his role in the fourth estate of democracy.

We support Hunter and his pursuit of truth.

JAWS supports the statement by the Pacific Island News Association in condemning such actions by the Fiji interim Government or any other Government in the Pacific.

JAWS urges the Samoan Government to lobby for rights of the media in Fiji and the Pacific.


JAWS 2008
Photo by Giff Johnson, Pacific Magazine.

JAWS awards Samoan Journalists

For the first time in the history of JAWS, the organisation awarded local Journalists. The notion came after the executive agreed that some members of the media industry were deserving of recognition after tremendous efforts and extensive work in the Samoan media industry.
The JAWS Media Awards were presented to Journalists with more than ten years of service to the media industry in Samoa. The awardees ranged from current serving Journalists, to media Owners and Executives. Not all awardees were present, but their awards are being delivered to them.

In early 2004 the then JAWS board awarded the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister of Samoa with Press Freedom Awards for their work in transparancy, accountability and good governance. The awards by JAWS to Journalists is an acknowledgement that they have played an integral part in the Press Freedom of Samoa.

The Awardees who were present.

Journalists come together once again

The Journalists of Samoa once again came together for the much needed night of fun after a year of hard and tireless work in the Samoan media. JAWS hosted a cocktail function for the Journalists and media workers of Samoa after the AGM. Journalists from all media in Samoa as well as PR officers from some Government Ministries and local companies all took part.
JAWS hosts only one function as such a year, the Journalists will reconvene again in the next AGM.

Lemalu honoured by JAWS

Lemalu Rosie Afamasaga, veteran Journalist in Samoa was honoured by JAWS for her services to the media in Samoa. Lemalu recently retired from the Savali Newspaper after more than ten years of service to the Government publication. Lemalu is one of the founding member and a life member of JAWS.
The JAWS President and Executive thanked Lemalu for paving the way for quality Journalism in Samoa. Her work as a translator was also mentioned.

Lemalu will leave Samoa for New Zealand in the coming weeks.

JAWS Exec reelected

The Board of JAWS was reelected this year by unanimous decision during the Annual General Meeting (AGM). This is the third consecutive term by the Board, making them the longest serving in the history of JAWS. The Board is as follows.


Papalii Ualetenese Taimalelagi

Vice President:

Lagi Keresoma


Cherelle Jackson

Deputy Secretary:

Ame Sene


Angela Kronfeld Polu

Deputy Treasurer:

Sioeli Alofaifo


Apulu Lance Polu