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Pacific media freedom defenders join IFJ meeting in Samoa

(IFJ/IFEX) - 28 October 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) opened a Media for Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific regional meeting and training workshop in Apia, Samoa, on Wednesday.

In an opening event at the Millenia Hotel, hosted by the Journalists' Association of Samoa (JAWS), Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi emphasised the value of media responsibility in the pursuit of media freedom in the Pacific.

More than 30 leading media practitioners from the Pacific Island states of American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Tuvalu are attending the four-day event in Samoa.

Regional organisations represented include Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) and the Pasifika Media Association (PasiMA), with guests also including Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Sean Dorney and the editor-in-chief of the Samoa Observer Newspaper Group, Savea Sano Malifa.

The event is the first major regional activity in a two-year IFJ project, Media for Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific, which began in July.

The training workshops and roundtable meeting bring together journalists, editors, media freedom advocates, journalism educators and students to discuss the status of media freedom across the Pacific.

Participants will join workshops to develop and strengthen skills in monitoring and reporting on media rights issues across Pacific Island nations, while the roundtable meeting will assess pressing issues regarding press freedom and freedom of expression in the region, and develop a strategy to prepare the inaugural Press Freedom in the Pacific report to be published in 2011.

"The training and meeting of Pacific Island press freedom defenders is a significant opportunity for media practitioners in the Pacific to work together to establish region-wide systems for keeping a watch on media freedom issues," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"The IFJ is pleased to work with region-based associates and organisations to contribute to the continuing development in the Pacific of a strong and independent media, which is the cornerstone of democracy."

Media for Democracy and Human Rights in the Pacific is supported by the European Commission (EC) and UNESCO 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 across the Pacific.

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