Press freedom alive and well in the Pacific!
The 2007 UNESCO World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) was widely celebrated across the Pacific with large and vibrant events organized in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on annually 3rd May to promote and commemorate the principles of press freedom and media independence, in addition to paying tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. The UNESCO theme for 2007 was "Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity".
Activities focussed on discussing the rising challenges to Pacific journalists with regards to their safety, specific dangers, the problem of impunity with respect to attacks on the press/media, as well as exploring measures that can be adopted to improve safety.
The Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea, commemorated WPFD with an awards presentation (download the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/webworld/news/2007/DWU_PNG.jpg">poster</a>), whereas the Media Association of Vanuatu organized a two-day programme on 3 and 4 May that involved the participation of government, civil society and the business community along with the media.
Activities commenced with a peaceful rally through Port Vila town with banners and placards bearing slogans that called for government support for freedom of information and media freedom in Vanuatu.
A programme held at the VBTC compound included keynote speakers Nicolas Berlanga Martinez, Chargé d'Affaires of the European Delegation in Vanuatu, and George Bogiri representing the Prime Minister.
In Fiji, the three WPFD events concerned:
<li>'Media Freedom Day Seminar' organized by the Fiji Media Council;</li>
<li>'Media Freedom in Fiji'; a seminar organized by the University of the South Pacific Journalist Students Association;</li>
<li>World Press Freedom Day celebration organized by the Fiji Institute of Technology (download the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/webworld/news/2007/FIT_WPFD.pdf">poster</a>).</li>
The UNESCO Office for the Pacific States in Apia, Samoa hosted all Samoa-based UN agencies to a UN Learning Day on World Press Freedom Day. The UN Learning Days are designed to inform UN staff and invited guests of the wide variety of activities and projects of the UN. They significantly increase awareness of UN activities to promote the One UN.
Savea Sano Malifa, Publisher of the award-winning Samoa Observer newspaper delivered the keynote address on the history and current status of press freedom in Samoa.
The Journalist Association of [Western] Samoa, JAWS, also organized an Editors Forum with an adaptation of the 2007 theme to "Confidentiality and Fair Treatment of Journalists."
The JAWS Editors Forum included a lively debate on access to information and the need for the Government to adopt information disclosure policies leading to Freedom of Information legislation. The Printers & Publishers Act 1992 which ‘forces' editors to reveal sources was also discussed.
Download the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/webworld/news/2007/WPFD_Information_poster.jpg">"WPFD Information poster"</a> and the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/webworld/news/2007/Poster_A1.jpg">"Defend Press Freedom" Poster</a>.