PFF continues to stand with media colleagues around the world and more specifically in the Pacific to observe this year’s theme, “Journalism under digital siege”.
This statement was originally published on PFF’s Facebook page on 3 May 2022.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) is pleased to announce its new Chair, Robert Iroga of the Solomon Islands. Iroga, the former co-chair for Melanesia, takes up the leadership role from outgoing Chair Bernadette Carreon, who will continue to serve as Micronesia co-Chair alongside the subregional co-chair for Polynesia, Ms Monica Miller of American Samoa. As the region’s article-19 watchdog led on a voluntary basis by Pacific news leaders, PFF continues to stand with our media colleagues around the world and more specifically in the Pacific to observe this year’s theme, “Journalism under digital siege”.
The theme focuses on the several ways in which journalism is endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists and the consequences of all this on public trust in digital communications. According to the United Nations, surveillance can uncover information collected by journalists, including from whistle-blowers and can harm the journalists’ safety.
The last year has seen a surge of media freedom, article 19 violations in our Pacific Islands. From political institutions hampering journalists from carrying out their work to violations from state authorities.
PFF believes that free press is a key component in any democracy and any moves to keep public information out of the public domain is a threat to the human rights of citizens to be informed, so they can in turn, freely share, debate, and create more information flows in the digital age.
However, renewed support from key development partners supporting Pacific news and fact-checking, as well as investigative reporting, has grown as part of the pandemic response from our news organisations. The resilience of our media colleagues around the region is like no other.
“Media challenges facing Pacific journalists are numerous and complex. One is the difficulty presented by COVID-19’s public state of emergency in some of our countries, to the growing difficulties in getting public figures to be accountable for their actions. It is also worth remembering that many media houses are struggling to stay afloat financially.”
Incoming PFF Chair, Robert Iroga states.
“Regardless of these challenges, it is time for us to reflect on the important role that journalists play.
In that regard, they must be given all the freedom and space to report freely wherever they are across the Pacific, without threat or intimidation.”
The Pacific Freedom Forum applauds the incredible work done by our media colleagues in the Pacific and the challenges many face while simply trying to do their job.