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New IFJ action to strengthen media freedom in Pacific region

(IFJ/IFEX) - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is pleased to announce a new project in the Pacific designed to strengthen the role of media workers and press freedom advocates in defending and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in the region.

Media for Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific, which is supported by the European Union and UNESCO, aims to bring together an enduring coalition of organisations and individuals who will jointly promote and defend rights related to freedom of the media, freedom of expression, access to information and the right to free association.

"This new project will see the IFJ work with associates and colleagues from Pacific Island nations and the region to deliver on-the-ground skills development for media workers in the region," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Media for Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific is an IFJ-coordinated project which has particular relevance to Fiji as a country where fundamental freedoms are at great risk and pose negative repercussions for other States in the region."

IFJ Asia-Pacific, with national and regional organisations based in the Pacific, will coordinate a series of training and related activities to develop skills in monitoring of media rights in Pacific States and promoting a culture of public service journalism.

The work will be implemented by the IFJ with Lisa Williams-Lahari as local coordinator and Samoan journalist Cherelle Jackson as media rights monitor. Both have extensive experience in advocating media freedom across the Pacific.

"Journalists and their organisations have an important role to play in ensuring that censorship, restrictions and attacks against the media and media personnel are not tolerated, that media independence is valued and encouraged, and in promoting democratic processes and accountable governance," Park said.

"By supporting the role of journalists and the media in campaigning for press freedom and media independence, the program will reinforce the central role of an independent media in promoting civil society, democratic discourse and human rights for all within the Pacific community."

The project will run over 24 months, with phased activities conducted in various countries.

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