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IFJ welcomes strong regional support for press freedom at Pacific meeting

(IFJ/IFEX) - October 26, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the strong support for press freedom recently expressed at Pacific Media Rising: Shaping New Futures for Media, Voice and Accountability, a regional media roundtable meeting held in Honiara, Solomon Islands from October 19 to 21.

The roundtable meeting is the second to be held by the IFJ in the region, following a meeting of journalists and press freedom activists in Apia, Samoa last year.

This year's roundtable, attended by journalists, civil society representatives and donors, had the dual objectives of strengthening monitoring of media freedoms in the Pacific, and strengthening the role of media as partners essential to accountable, transparent governance and sustainable development in Pacific nations.

The event incorporated a training workshop on journalism in the public interest for Pacific journalists and a parallel media partners' forum for development and civil society organisations, and community media networks. The roundtable culminated in a joint plenary of both groups on the final day, aimed at discussing strategies for progressing press freedom in the Pacific.

The roundtable discussions saw widespread support for continued efforts to protect and promote press freedom in the region. Codes of ethics, freedom of information laws, the growth of citizen journalism and the current situation for journalists in Fiji were all identified as areas of interest.

In his opening address to the roundtable, Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga said: "Any violation on media freedom and freedom of expression by governments, businesses and individuals is undemocratic and that kind of attitude should be discouraged. Any actions and decisions that infringe these fundamental democratic principles is a violation of human rights."

The IFJ welcomes Maelanga's comments and commends the Solomon Islands Government for its statement of support for press freedom, and encourages other governments in the Pacific to similarly affirm their commitment to these principles.

"The IFJ is committed to working with media and other stakeholders in the region as they engage with new political challenges and emerging technologies in pursuit of quality independent, journalism," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

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