Sunday, March 6, 2011

[pima.nius] Palau newspaper closedown highlights media freedom concerns

10:02 AM |

Rarotonga, Cook Islands -- The fragility of media freedom and news
industries in some Pacific states has been highlighted in Palau, says
regional monitoring network the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

The forum says concerns arising from two high level court cases in
Palau need a closer look, after a February 2011 Supreme Court ruling
finding an "alien" registration fee scheme led by President Johnson
Toribiong's government was unconstitutional. The class action suit
leading to the Supreme Court decision was filed in late 2010 by Palau
Horizon senior journalist Bernadette Carreon and others. Carreon is
from the Philippines and had worked at the Horizon for a decade. She
was 'terminated' not long after the suit was filed. However her other
news colleagues followed suit when the whole newspaper printed its
last edition on 20 November 2010.

"Media freedom concerns centre on job loss for the journalist - and
loss of her newspaper", says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New
Guinea, "independent sources of information for people of Palau can
only be provided by a free and pluralistic media industry. To lose a
key operator such as the Palau Horizon, and a journalist of Carreon's
calibre, leaves a void where a quality news provider used to be."

Online reports reviewed by PFF state that her former employer, long
time newspaper Palau Horizon closed after 12 years, printing a last
edition on 20 November 2010. Publisher Abed E. Younis cited a
"negative business atmosphere" and the slow economy. He continues to
run his publishing business.

In another case reported by the Palau Horizon before it closed, the
Attorney General stepped in to halt prosecution proceedings into
alleged money laundering involving US 22 billion.

"A journalist involved in a successful claim at the Supreme Court
level underscores the need for vigilance under press freedom laws of
the Palau constitution," says Miller.

"Specifically, section 2 of Article 4 under fundamental rights states
that government shall take no action to deny or impair the freedom of
expression or press."

Both cases need re-examining for impact on freedom of the press in
Palau, says the PFF.

"In some instances it's physical or psychological trauma against an
individual journalists. In others, it is big business or political
boycotts and interference against publishers which spills over into
newsrooms."

"We salute Carreon's courage in standing against injustice, and
sympathise with her and colleagues of the Palau Horizon at this time,"
says Miller.--ENDS




LINKS

Supreme court case:

 http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201009/s3017237.htm%3Eruling

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacbeat/stories/201009/s3017237.htm




 Money Laundering case:
http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=130/focusContentID=17236/tableName=mediaRelease/overideSkinName=newsArticle-full.tpl




Palau Constitution: http://www.paclii.org/pw/legis/consol_act/cotrop359/













CONTACT: PFF interim Chair Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper
| Papua New Guinea Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 |
Email: susuve.laumaea@interoil.com PFF interim co-Chair Monica Miller
| KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 |
Email: monica@khjradio.com The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional
and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the
specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of
Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free
and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link
between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory
governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific
Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the
above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and
bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and
international community.


--
Lisa Williams-Lahari
Media Freelancer
Regional Coordinator, IFJ Pacific Media for Democracy and Human Rights
Project
Ph Mob: (64) 0210642704
Skype: lisalahari

* "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter."-- Martin Luther King Jr.  *

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aotearoa, new zealand
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