Report – By Pacific Media Watch
The author of a new book on Pacific media and politics has hit out at copycat cybercrime laws designed to curb freedom of expression on social media and independent blog news sites.
Pacific Media Centre director professor David Robie, author of Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific, made the comments at the book launch on AUT University at ANZAC weekend.
“Fiji is not the biggest worry in the region by a long shot. Indonesian repression in the two Melanesian provinces that make up the West Papua region and the climate of impunity in the Philippines where journalists are assassinated with ease are serious crises in the region,” he said.
“But when do you read about these issues in the New Zealand media?
“At least 206 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since 1986—34 of them in the Ampatuan massacre in Mindanao in 2009. More than four years later nobody has been convicted for these atrocities.
“The Philippines is a far more dangerous place for the media under democracy than it was under the Marcos military dictatorship.”
Dr Robie also criticised the proposed new cybercrime law in Papua New Guinea, which will outlaw pseudonyms in social media and provide “full biometric scanning” of sim cards, and other repressive digital media legislation planned in the Pacific.
Speakers at the event included the AUT dean of Creative Technologies, Professor Desna Jury; Wiremu Tipuna, Takawaenga Māori at AUT (Ngati Kahungunu); Dr Steven Ratuva, president of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association (PIPSA); publisher Tony Murrow of Little Island Press; and Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) chair Sandra Kailahi.
TV New Zealand’s Pacific correspondent, Barbara Dreaver, sent a “launch” message which was read out by Kailahi.
Commending the book, Dreaver’s message said: “Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face takes its readers on a journey through a sometimes unfamiliar Pacific … and it’s a road you can’t help thinking you should be travelling on.
“West Papua, Bougainville, Fiji – it’s every journalist’s conscience. If it’s not, then it should be.”
According to Murrow, the book, with its focus on killings of journalists in the Philippines, and massacres, rape and torture in West Papua and Timor-Leste, highlighted how widespread the tragedies of the Pacific were.
The book is also a critique of the mainstream media which ignores and under-reports Pacific issues.
Source: Pacific Media Watch 8581