Saturday, October 25, 2008

IFJ Expresses Concern Over Restrictions on Independent Reporting in Samoa

SYDNEY - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern at reports of controls over the release of information to the media about a high profile inquiry into a senior official, thus infringing on the rights of the Samoan public to be informed.
Guidelines imposed by Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma on reporting the Commission of Inquiry into alleged gun smuggling involving the Police Commissioner and others have drawn criticism from journalists and the independent media, the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa (JAWS) reports. The restrictions severely limit the provision of information or reporting on the Commission’s activities.
Last week the Samoa Observer reportedly ceased its coverage of the Commission in protest at the restrictions.
“It is the media’s job to report any investigation into alleged unlawful activities of senior officials in the public interest,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“Any action by the courts or government to hinder this duty directly impedes media freedom in Samoa.”
The IFJ supports a call by JAWS for the Ombudsman to adhere to the principles of media freedom by providing open access to information on the Commission.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

* The statement was issued at the request of JAWS