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Four journalists attacked while covering high-profile trial of church leader

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 30 March 2009 IFJ media release:

IFJ Calls for Respect for Media as Reporters Attacked in Samoa

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for an immediate renewal of public respect for journalists and press freedom in the Pacific island state of Samoa after a spate of attacks on court reporters.

According to the Journalists' Association of Western Samoa (JAWS), a camera operator and a news reporter were attacked while reporting on a high-profile trial of a church leader at Samoa's Supreme Court in the capital, Apia, on March 24.

The media workers were reportedly chased away from the court entrance by members of the public attending the trial.

Two newspaper reporters were physically threatened at the court the following day, JAWS reported.

"JAWS calls upon the public to be mindful that a journalist reports not for his or her own sake but for the sake of our readers, listeners and audiences," JAWS Secretary Cherelle Jackson said in a statement.

"By hindering the work of journalists, members of the public are inadvertently infringing upon the people's right to know and be informed."

The IFJ joins JAWS in calling for authorities in Samoa to provide additional protection to any media worker reporting on the remaining proceedings of the trial and on any matter of public interest.

"Court reporting is a necessary part of ensuring transparency in governance and justice in a democratic state," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"It is the responsibility of the Samoan authorities to send a clear message to any person who attacks members of the media that their actions undermine this process and will not be tolerated."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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