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Pacific Freedom Forum welcomes news that Samoa's media body will be re-registered before end of 2013

JAWS members at a World Press Freedom Day event
JAWS members at a World Press Freedom Day event

Pacific Freedom Forum

Regional media monitoring group the Pacific Freedom Forum has welcomed news that Samoa's media body will be re-registered before the end of the year.

Jaws is the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa, one of the region's oldest bodies, registered on 1 September 1991.

News that JAWS was deregistered came as a shock to regional media colleagues as the details behind the move were unclear.

"JAWS is seen by Pacific colleagues as a leading national media association and its active and feisty membership has set a standard many smaller nations can only dream of," said PFF chair Titi Gabi.

"While we welcome news of paperwork and other details being the focus of a new revised JAWS, we remain cautious over the state plans to legislate on media complaints and await further information in that area."

The PFF position supported by regional and global development partners calls for independent journalism and reporting in the public interest.

PFF launched a concept for a Pacific regional media Ombudsman in May and has already seen interest from five Pacific countries in the notion of a regional ethics and standards watchdog.

The concept will be discussed at a Pacific broadcasters meeting this month in Vanuatu, and is also being researched as part of a scoping study involving PFF, UNESCO and the UNDP Pacific.

"It's important that where possible, our national bodies such as JAWS be fostered to promote media autonomy and integrity . . . and that where the media industry may be unable to self-regulate because of size and interest, an effective and supported regional mechanism can help out," said PFF Co-chair, Monica Miller.

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