Human rights watchdog calls for police probe into ‘unclear’ Papua killings

Christmas spirit at a Human Rights Day rally in the Papuan capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Indonesian police should investigate a Papuan armed group’s killing of at least 17 people, including a soldier, at a construction area in Nduga in Papua’s densely forested Central Highlands earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said today.

The circumstances of the killings on December 2 remained unclear, said the watchdog.

Papuan militants should cease unlawful killings, and the Indonesian government should ensure that its security forces act in accordance with international standards and not commit abuses in response to the attack, said the watchdog.

READ MORE: Indonesia’s Papua media blacklist

“A Papua militant group’s attack on a worksite raises grave concerns that require a full investigation,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.

“Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans.”

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The West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat), the military wing of the Free Merdeka Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), claimed responsibility for the killings, saying those killed were military personnel from the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers.

An army colonel said that three of the survivors of the attack were military personnel working as engineers.

Indonesian police prepare to face peaceful Papuan protesters in the capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

‘Military engineers’
Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the Papuan armed group, told the media that the attacks were organised by the militant’s group’s third Ndugama Command.

He said they had monitored the workers for three months and concluded that they were engineering corps personnel wearing civilian clothes.

However, Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said that those killed were workers from state-owned companies PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya, sent from Sulawesi to work on the 4300 km Trans-Papua highway.

He said that only the soldiers protecting the workers were armed, including the one killed in the attack.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in reaction to the attacks he had “ordered the armed forces commander and the police chief to pursue and capture all the perpetrators of such rude and violent acts”.

Priests, seminarians and students take part in a peaceful Human Rights Day march in the capital Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

In West Papua, December 1 is widely commemorated as the day West Papua declared nationhood. In 1961, under Dutch rule, an elected council consisting mostly of indigenous Papuans commissioned the creation of a national anthem and flag.

On December 1, 1961, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown beside the Dutch tricolor for the first time.

Indonesia took control over Papua with United Nations recognition in 1969.

500 plus arrested
Over the last five decades, some Papuans have resisted Indonesian rule. On December 1, 2018, more than 500 students were arrested in more than 10 Indonesian cities after peacefully raising the Morning Star flag and demanding a referendum on independence.

Indonesia’s National Police initially announced that the killings in Nduga were in retribution for a worker taking photographs of Papuan militants organising a flag-raising ceremony near a road and bridge construction.

More than 100 military and police officers were evacuating the dead and injured, and engaged in a military operation against the militants.

Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s Central Highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontation with armed groups.

Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua.

“The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Nduga, directing all security personnel to treat Papuans in accordance with international standards,” said the watchdog.

“They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offence. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area.”


A cartoonist’s depiction of Indonesian government restrictions on media freedom and rights monitoring in Papua. Cartoon: © 2015 Toni Malakian/Human Rights Watch

Remote access
Nduga is an extremely remote area where no journalists have had access since the attacks.

A decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua and controls on Indonesian journalists there have fostered that lack of justice for serious abuses by Indonesian security forces and fueled resentment among Papuans.

“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Pearson said.

“Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Stop harassing Rappler, media advocacy groups tell Duterte

Two global media freedom advocacy groups accuse the Philippine government of trying to “silence” Rappler and its journalists. Image: Rappler

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have written a joint open letter to the prosecutor-general of the Philippines calling for an end to the orchestrated harassment of the news website Rappler and its editor, Maria Ressa, which began more than a year ago.

The website, which has more than 3.7 million followers on Facebook alone, has been under constant bureaucratic and legal attack by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Department of Justice earlier this month said that it planned to file unspecified tax evasion charges against Rappler and the website’s founder and executive editor, award-winning Maria Ressa.

READ MORE: The Rappler story: Journalism with an impact

The two media freedom advocacy groups said the government was trying to “silence” the website and its journalists.

Later it filed on November 9 a criminal case against two Rappler executives for allegedly avoiding paying  133.8 million pesos ($9.6 million) in tax.

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“We urge you to cease this campaign of intimidation and harassment against Rappler, both for the sake of respecting press freedom and for your government’s international credibility,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in the joint open letter.

Rappler publisher Maria Ressa could face up to 10 years in prison for tax evasion. Noel Celis /RSF/AFP

‘Fearless reporting’
Rappler had said after the tax evasion charges were first reported that: “We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting.

“We maintain that this is a clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment against us, and an attempt to silence journalists.”

The website said there was no legal basis for the action. The open letter said:

Mr Richard Anthony Fadullon
Prosecutor-General
Department of Justice
Ermita, Manila 1000
Republic of the Philippines
Via email: communications@doj.gov.ph

Dear Prosecutor General Fadullon,

We at the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders, two independent non-profit press freedom organisations, ask that you and your office end the politicised persecution of Philippine news site Rappler.

The Department of Justice earlier this month said that it planned to file tax evasion charges against Rappler and the website’s founder and executive editor, Maria Ressa. The charges relate to a company bond sale in 2015 that, according to reports, resulted in 162.5 million pesos (euros 2,7 million) in financial gains. The Justice Department’s statement did not indicate how much Rappler and Ressa allegedly owed in taxes.

Ressa has denied the allegation and said that Rappler is compliant with all Philippine tax laws, including the transaction in question. She said she believes the legal threat is an attempt to silence her news outlet’s critical reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. CPJ and RSF have documented in the past year how authorities have retaliated against Rappler’s coverage, including by banning its reporters from the presidential palace and referring to the site as “fake news” and “biased.”

The Department of Justice’s announcement that it will seek to file tax evasion charges is strikingly and worryingly similar to previous legal harassment of Rappler. The news site is still fighting a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to revoke its registration. The Court of Appeals ruled in July that the SEC had erred in its move to revoke Rappler’s certificate of incorporation, but the outlet’s motion to fully annul the order is still pending.

We view the tax evasion charges, which carry potential 10-year prison penalties under local law, as a clear and present threat to press freedom. As Ressa has pointed out, the charges could potentially threaten foreign investors who use similar mechanisms, and could thus damage the Philippine economy

We urge you to cease this campaign of intimidation and harassment against Rappler, both for the sake of respecting press freedom and for your government’s international credibility.

Sincerely,
Joel Simon
Executive Director
Committee to Protect Journalists

Christophe Deloire
Secretary-General
Reporters Without Borders

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Bryan Kramer: Who was culprit behind O’Neill government revenge on Waide?

Revenge against one of PNG’s leading journalists Scott Waide, says opposition MP for Madang = Bryan Kramer. Image: Bryan Kramer Facebook

COMMENT: By Bryan Kramer, MP for Madang

Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government has taken revenge against senior EMTV Reporter Scott Waide, who was suspended over his broadcasting of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the Maserati scandal.

I was informed soon after APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) that the O’Neil  actually planned on sacking Waide. However, there was pushback from the management and staff so they decided to instead suspend him and order that he go on leave.

I suspect given the recent unrest in Port Moresby involving security forces, they had to be careful not to trigger another incident.

READ MORE: O’Neill defends government on suspension of EMTV journalist Waide

Opposition MP Bryan Kramer … wants to get to the bottom of the attempt to sack Scott Waide. Image: Kramer Report

So the real question is, who was behind the decision calling for Waide’s “sacking/suspension”, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself, or the usual suspects such as O’Neill’s Chief Media Officer Chris Hawkins and Minister for APEC Justin Tkatchenko?

EMTV is owned by Telikom PNG that is ultimately owned by Kumul Holdings Consolidated, a state-owned enterprise.

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Shadow minister
The minister responsible for state-owned enterprises is William Duma and I am the shadow minister.

I will be writing to the minister and CEO of Kumul Consolidated Holdings asking them for an explanation behind this suspension.

I don’t expect a response, but what I can assure them is that following the removal of O’Neill in February 2019, the person behind the decision can expect to be sacked.

Last week, Opposition Members were on FM100 radio talkback that was telecast live on EMTV. However, half way through the programme we were cut off air. This is the second time it has happened.

It appears those feeding from a corrupt O’Neill government are starting to get desperate in their efforts to take away our rights – including our freedom of speech.

It’s time Papua New Guineans start to seriously think about organising ourselves in the cause to hold to account a corrupt prime minister and his cronies.

Opposition Madang MP Bryan Kramer is the shadow minister for state-owned enterprises, including the Telikom-owned EMTV. He founded the Allegiance Party and is an investigative journalist who publishes Kramer Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG Media Council says bring back Waide – stop attacking free media

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she appeared on the “negative” EMTV News during APEC – she refused to ride in a Maserati luxury sedan and criticised the funding. Image: PMC screenshot from EMTV News

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Media Council of PNG has called on the board and management of Media Niugini
Limited to allow senior EMTV journalist Scott Waide to return to active duty.

This follows Waide’s suspension for reportedly broadcasting a “negative” news story on national EMTV News relayed by the New Zealand Newshub television from Port Moresby that criticised PNG’s purchase of 40 Maserati luxury sedans for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

In the story, visiting NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is featured saying that none of the NZ$15 million in aid money went towards buying the Maseratis and she would not travel in one in one of the cars.

“I will not and I have been advised that I will be travelling in a Toyota Highlander, I believe,” she added at the time.

READ MORE: EMTV suspends senior journalist Scott Waide over NZ Maserati news story

“Reinstate Scott Waide” … currently a popular meme on PNG social media. Image: PMC

The news item on November 17 was considered “negative” by the EMTV state ownership – MNL board, the Kumul Telikom Holdings board and the Kumul Consolidated Holdings board.

-Partners-

“The Media Council (MCPNG) sees this as a clear case of ignorance on the part of the chairmen and members of these boards, about the business of reporting the news,” the council said in a statement.

“The media in PNG is in the business of reporting the truth. Regardless of whatever form
it may take.

“It is clear that the owners of EMTV, do not appreciate the strength and commitment of
its news team, to tell the truth.

“EMTV News has been at the forefront of setting new ways of covering and reporting
the news, that is now international standard.

“Mr Waide and the EMTV News team has been leading this change. It is a step backward for democracy, and development in the The MCPNG maintains that the job of portraying a positive image of the country rests solely with the government of the day.

“The media is not responsible for this aspect of a country’s well-being. Its sole responsibility is to the people, and not to government, regardless of whether it owns some, or all of any media company’s shareholding.

“The media must not bend to the whims of insecure politicians, and spineless ‘yes-men’ who flaunt their authority, with impunity, and against all moral and ethical judgement.

“We in the media are in the business of reporting the truth. Journalists should not be looking over their shoulders, every time they work on a sensitive story, just because it may not paint the government of the day, in a good light.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Open letter from MP for Wabag: EMTV move ‘dictatorship before our eyes’

Papua New Guinean journalists at APEC 2018 … “freedom of speech and expression are a fundamental right … and entrenched in the constitution”. Image: Loop PNG

OPINION: By Dr Lino Jeremaih Tom, MP for Wabag

The suspension of EMTV deputy news editor Scott Waide has brought us to a new low in Papua New Guinea’s downward spiral.

Freedom of speech and expression are a fundamental constitutional right entrenched in the constitution, are pillars of democracy and this suspension is a breach of this fundamental right.

We have become a dictatorship in essence and it’s happening right before our eyes. Leadership comes with the territory, and scrutiny and criticism are part of this package and the media plays a big part.

Wabag MP Lino Jeremaih Tom … “sad day for PNG for one of its most loved journalists to be treated this way”. Image: PNG Parliament

Biased reporting is not healthy for this country and it is indeed a sad day for PNG for one of its most loved journalists to be treated this way.

In fact, it’s disgusting and nauseating witnessing the gross abuse of power in recent times by those vested few in their bid for survival.

Desperation calls for desperate measures. All our oversight institutions and laws have been raped and plundered to a point where the remains are a dysfunctional wreck.

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If we can’t condemn this stupid and selfish act then all of us leaders should resign in shame as we’d have failed miserably our mandated responsibilities as freedom of speech and expression is one of the foundation principles of any democratic society.

This is totally wrong EMTV. What’s your role as a media outlet in nation building in PNG? The management should hang their heads in shame for stooping this low.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Report fake page to Facebook plea from Fiji Times editor

Fiji Times appeals to readers on its website today to report the fake page to Facebook. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Fiji Times has appealed to readers to report a fake Facebook account purporting to be the official page of the daily newspaper.

In a message posted on the newspaper’s website today, editor-in-chief Fred Wesley says: “We need your support to report this FAKE page https://web.facebook.com/Fiji-Times-254313332110085/ to Facebook so it can be removed.”

The fake page ran a false news item claiming that opposition SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka had been barred from contesting tomorrow’s general election. In fact, a High Court ruling yesterday cleared Rabuka to contest the election to the jubilation of a crowd waiting outside the Suva courtroom.

The fake news item said:

“The Social Liberal Democratic Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has been disqualified from running for the 2018 Fijian General Elections.

“All votes cast for Rabuka’s number will not be counted now …”

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The official Facebook account of the newspaper can be accessed on this link: https://web.facebook.com/fijitimesonline/

The Fake Fiji Times FB page. Image: PMC The true Fiji Times FB page. Image: PMC

False news warning
Radio NZ Pacific reports that election authorities in Fiji are warning about false news stories in the run-up to tomorrow’s election.

They were telling people to report any so-called fake news.

Social media users have found fake media sites with items about visa-free access to Australia and a ban on celebrating Diwali.

Ashwin Raj, of Fiji’s media authority, said there was so much fake news that audiences found it hard to decide which was fact or fiction.

Raj said people should report fake news.

A two-day campaign blackout started at midnight on Sunday, but the complaints to the elections office said some material remained on banners and car stickers.

Offenders risk the chance of a hefty fine and up to 10 years in jail.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Solomon Islands students impressive at 18th USP journalism awards

Fiji Sun managing editor business Maraia Vula (middle) flanked by USP Journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh (left), joint winners Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo and Professor David Robie (right). Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

By Wansolwara Staff

Solomon Islands student journalists impressed at the annual University of the South Pacific media awards marking the 50th year of the Fiji-based regional institution.

The 18th USP student journalist awards on Friday night featured 14 prizes and more than $6000 in cash awards for excellence in journalism.

Solomon Islands students collected seven awards.

USP’s 50 YEARS

Final-year journalism students Elizabeth Osifelo from the Solomon Islands, who is also president of the Journalism Students Association, and Koroi Tadulala from Fiji scooped the premier award, Tanoa Award for the Most Outstanding Journalism Students, sponsored by Fiji Sun.

“The most important thing for us is being a responsible journalist – journalism has taught us not be passive but active – to pay attention to detail, to always be on your feet and to ask questions,” said Osifelo, who was in New Zealand earlier this year and visited AUT’s Pacific Media Centre and other news sites on a Pacific Cooperation Foundation scholarship.

“We learnt that we must read to develop our thinking.

-Partners-

“At USP, we learnt that as journalists, we have a very important role to play in society. We got first-hand experience by reporting for our Wansolwara newspaper and website.

More confident
“Some of us came to USP fresh out of school with no skills or experience. After three years, we are much more experienced, far more confident and more ready than ever before to take on the world.

“We are sad to be leaving but we will remain family, no matter where in the world we end up.”

The Pacific Media Centre’s Professor David Robie speaking on the contemporary dangers of journalism. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

Keynote speaker Professor David Robie, director of AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, spoke about the global dangers for journalists and reflected on his time at the university when he set up the USP Journalism Students Awards.

“It is with pride that I can look back at my five years with USP bridging the start of the millennium. Among high points were gaining my doctorate in history/politics at USP – the first journalism educator to do so in the Pacific – and launching these very annual journalism awards, initially with the Storyboard and Tanoa awards and a host of sponsors,” he said.

“When I look at the outstanding achievements in the years since then with current journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh and his colleagues Eliki Drugunalevu and Geraldine Panapasa, it is with some pleasure.

“And USP should be rightly delighted with one of the major success journalism programmes of the Asia-Pacific region.

Filipino students protest over the killings in the presidential “war on drugs”. Image: From Dr Robie’s “future of journalism” awards talk

Wansolwara newspaper, which celebrated two decades of publishing in 2016, has been a tremendous success. Not many journalism school publications have such sustained longevity and have won so many international awards.”

MASI president
USP journalism alumni and president of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), Charles Kadamana, was also a guest speaker at the event.

MASI president Charles Kadamana (right) on the USP journalism awards night. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

He said the awards event was a fitting occasion for USP’s 50th anniversary.

“To those who received awards, I congratulate you. You deserve it. For others, do not be discouraged, rather you should be motivated to do better next time,” he said at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies pavilion where the event was held.

“USP, over the past 50 years, has been the breeding ground for nurturing future journalists to meet the needs of the region. Many graduates have taken up leadership role within the government, private sectors, institutions and in the media industry.

“My message to students is that you carry a big responsibility. My advice is to make good use of your time while studying at USP. Every year thousands of students across the region struggle to secure scholarships to pursue journalism as a career so you should regard yourselves as the luckiest ones.”

Part of the crowd at the USP journalism awards. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

Organised by the University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme, the event is the longest running journalism awards in the region. It is the only awards for journalism in Fiji at the moment.

Dr Singh said the event recognises and rewards students who excel in their coursework, which includes producing news for print, online and broadcast media.

Other sponsors of the awards include Fiji Times Limited, Fiji Television Limited, Mai TV, FijiLive, Communications Fiji Limited, Islands Business, Pacific Islands News Association as well as international non-profit organisation Internews and Earth Journalism Network.

Pacific Media Centre’s professor David Robie, Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley and USP journalism coordinator Dr Shailendra Singh on the USP awards night. Image: Wansolwara

Recipients of the 14 awards were:

FijiLive Most Promising First Year Student Award – Fredrick Kusu (Solomon Islands)
FijiLive
Best Online Reporting Award – Chris Ha’arabe (Solomon Islands)
Communications Fiji Limited Best Radio Student Award – Rosalie Nongebatu (Solomon Islands)
Fiji Television Limited Best Television Student Award – Sharon Nanau (Solomon Islands)
The Fiji Times Best News Reporting Award – Mereoni Mili and Anaseini Civavonovono
The Fiji Times Best Sports Reporting Award – Mitieli Baleiwai and Venina Tinaivugona
Islands Business Award for Best Feature Reporting – Laiseana Nasiga
Mai TV Award for Best Editor – Drue Slatter
Internews/Earth Journalism Network Awards for Best Mojo Documentary (Individual and Group) – Jared Koli (Solomon Islands for the Individual award) and Group 4 winners Kaelyn Dekarube (Nauru), Sharon Nanau, Eliza Kukutu (Solomon Islands), Harrison Selmen (Vanuatu) and Kirisitiana Uluwai
Pacific Islands News Association Encouragement Award – Dhruvkaran Nand
Wansolwara Award for Most Improved Student – Virashna Singh
The Fiji Times Storyboard Award for Best Regional Reporting – Rosalie Nongebatu and Semi Malaki (Tuvalu)
Fiji Sun Tanoa Award for the Most Outstanding Journalism Students – Koroi Tadulala and Elizabeth Osifelo

University of the South Pacific journalism graduating class of 2018. Image: Harrisson Selmen/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Next ABC chief must be advocate for public broadcasting, says MEAA

Dumped ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie … her term will be remembered for “historically low” funding, redundancies. Image: SBS

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The next managing director of the ABC must be prepared to fight for better funding and independence, and to champion public broadcasting in a hostile political environment, says the union representing the ABC’s editorial staff.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance says the sacking of Michelle Guthrie follows a tumultuous period for the ABC.

MEAA members hope that new leadership, temporarily under David Anderson, could be a circuit breaker for the organisation, says the MEAA.

READ MORE: ‘I am devastated,’ says sacked boss as she considers legal options

The director of MEAA Media, Katelin McInerney, said Guthrie’s two-and-a-half years as managing director would unfortunately be remembered for historically low levels of funding culminating in the loss of $84 million in this year’s budget, hundreds of redundancies, unprecedented political attacks on the ABC’s independence and low staff morale.

“It is no secret the ABC is caught in the pincers – between the need to invest in an ever-changing media landscape, and a decline in real funding to historically low levels,” McInerney said.

-Partners-

“The next managing director of the ABC will face real challenges, including how to restore the trust and confidence of staff by ending the ‘Hunger Games’ processes, casualisation, and outsourcing which in four years have seen more than 1000 experienced workers leave the organisation,” she said.

“They must have a clear vision for the ABC and be able to articulate the direction they want to take the organisation.

“They must be a vocal public advocate for the ABC, who is prepared to tackle head-on the historically low levels of ABC funding with meaningful engagement with the Federal Government.

“They must be 100% committed to public broadcasting and to fend off any attempts to privatise the ABC either directly or by stealth.

“They must be a champion for quality Australian content and specialist content and a staunch defender of the ABC’s independence and of its editorial staff. This includes refocusing daily journalism away from lifestyle content and ‘clickbait’ and back towards news and current affairs.

“Importantly, the ABC board must also be prepared to back the staff of the ABC and the integrity of the ABC as a respected publicly-owned institution in the face of unrelenting political attacks.

“MEAA will shortly be writing to the incoming MD to seek positive engagement and consultation on the above issues, and hope to involve our members with an improved dialogue with management on the challenges the ABC faces.

“We feel it is time for a new vision and new direction for the ABC to emerge, allowing journalists and content makers to get on with the job of serving audiences with the content they trust.”

The ABC MEAA House Committee asked that external critics of the organisation pause to give the new leadership some time and space, to allow this dialogue to happen in good faith, the MEAA statement said.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Stick to our Forum visa rules, Nauru warns media via Twitter

Detained, released and now reinstated TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver … Nauru government “displeased” with NZ reporting on the refugee issue. Image: Barbara Dreaver/Twitter

By RNZ Pacific

The Nauru government has taken to Twitter to warn journalists they are not above the law as they cover the Pacific Islands Forum.

Journalists covering the Forum are operating on visas with restrictions on reporting – in particular about the Australian-run detention camps.

New Zealand Television Pacific affairs journalist Barbara Dreaver lost her accreditation yesterday after Nauru said she had violated visa regulations.

READ MORE: Media freedom commentators condemn Nauru ‘gag’ actions

The TVNZ reporter was detained for more than three hours and stripped of her Forum accreditation – however that was reinstated today.

She had been interviewing a refugee outside a restaurant on the island when she was asked to go to a police station.

-Partners-

The Nauru government said journalists from New Zealand were not above the law and walking into certain areas unannounced increased risk.

The Nauru government’s ‘you aren’t above the law” media warning via Twitter. Image: PMC

The government also tweeted about the need for journalists to follow the rules, and accused some of reporting misinformation.

News reports disputed
At a news conference as part of the Forum President, Baron Waqa disputed news reports about what happened to Dreaver.

“No she wasn’t detained, she was taken in for questioning,” he said.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who is also in Nauru, said freedom of the press was critical to democracy.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived earlier for the main day of the Forum and said she would be asking more questions about what happened during the course of the day.

She is joining other leaders in the traditional retreat, after which they will sign the Boe Declaration, making commitments about action on regional security, including transnational crime, illegal fishing and cybercrime.

RNZ political reporter Gia Garrick said journalists there did get a warning of sorts yesterday.

‘Wrong issues’
“We did have a warning. I guess that there was some displeasure or unrest from the Nauru government about the New Zealand reporting while we are here,” said Gia Garrick.

“We had an MFAT official sit the seven of us down, or actually it was the six of us minus Barbara [Dreaver], she wasn’t back at this stage …and tell us that the Nauru government would like to pass on a message to us that it would prefer if we reported on the Forum instead of just focusing on the one issue here.

“The government felt that we had not been reporting on the Forum to its satisfaction and been focusing on the wrong issues and so he wanted to pass on that it would be going against our visa conditions should we be going into these refugee camps and it was just a few hours later that Barbara Dreaver was detained or was taken to the police station.”

The Pacific Islands Forum ends today.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

TVNZ Pacific reporter released after being detained in Nauru

Television New Zealand Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver tells media of her three-hour detention by Nauru police after interviewing a refugee today. Her was stripped of her Forum accreditation. Video: RNZ Pacific Pool

By RNZ Pacific

Journalist Barbara Dreaver has been released after being detained in Nauru today while covering the Pacific Islands Forum summit, reports TVNZ.

RNZ’s reporter on Nauru said it was understood Dreaver was taken to the police station on the island after trying to interview a refugee outside of the camp.

She said they asked for her visa, told her she was breaching her conditions and stripped her of her accreditation for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders summit being held on the island.

EARLIER STORY: TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver detained

World Vision New Zealand said it helped Dreaver connect with refugees on Nauru and it was contacted by its liaison person this afternoon.

-Partners-

A spokesperson said Dreaver’s interview had been stopped by the Nauru police, and she was taken by them.

The Nauru government has limited the movements of journalists covering the summit and placed restrictions on who they can talk to.

An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was with Dreaver during the ordeal.

PM pleased over release
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was pleased that Dreaver was released.

Ardern leaves for Nauru early tomorrow morning, and says once she gets there she will seek more advice about the situation.

She said the New Zealand government believed in freedom of the press throughout the world, and that includes the entire Pacific region.

The Nauru government had limited the journalists covering the summit and placed restrictions on those who got approval to go, limiting who they could talk to and what issues they could discuss.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was also banned from covering the Forum summit after the Nauruan government accused the public broadcaster of “continued biased and false reporting” about the country.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media