West Papua violence hits Indonesian RSF media rankings – NZ, Fiji fall

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Item: 7803

PARIS (Reporters sans frontières / Pacific Media Watch): An Indonesian military crackdown in the West Papua region, where at least two journalists were killed, five kidnapped and 18 assaulted in 2011, is the main reason for the country’s fall to 146th position in the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

A corrupt judiciary that is too easily influenced by politicians and pressure groups and government attempts to control the media and Internet have prevented the development of a freer press, said the 2011 RSF report released today.

West Papua strongly featured in an earlier Pacific Journalism Review media freedom report which condemned Indonesia’s human rights record in October.

Fiji, which has a draconian media decree imposed by the military backed regime that seized power in a 2006 coup, dropped again to 117th. The survey was completed before the Pacific country lifted  its Public Emergency Regulations (PER) earlier this year.

Countries that have “traditionally been good performers in the Asia-Pacific region did not shine in 2011”, the RSF report said.

“With New Zealand’s fall to 13th position, no country in the region figured among the top 10 in the index.

“Hong Kong (54th) saw a sharp deterioration in press freedom in 2011 and its ranking fell sharply.

“Arrests, assaults and harassment worsened working conditions for journalists to an extent not seen previously, a sign of a worrying change in government policy.

“In Australia (30th), the media were subjected to investigations and criticism by the authorities, and were denied access to information, while in Japan (22nd) coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident gave rise to excessive restrictions and exposed the limits of the pluralism of the country’s press.”

The best ranked Pacific Islands nation was Papua New Guinea (35th), three places above France (38th) which has territories in the region.

Samoa (54th) ranked equal with Hong Kong, just ahead of the United States territories and well clear of Tonga (63rd) and Timor-Leste (86th). Vanuatu, which has been a problem over the past year, was not listed. Nor was the Solomon Islands.

“In the Philippines (140th), which rose again in the index after falling in 2010 as a result of the massacre of 32 journalists in Ampatuan in November 2009, paramilitary groups and private militias continued to attack media workers,” the RSF report said.

“The judicial investigation into the Ampatuan massacre made it clear that the response of the authorities was seriously inadequate.

“In Afghanistan (150th) and Pakistan (151st), violence remained the main concern for journalists, who were under constant threat from the Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups.

“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan (151st) was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row.”

Full RSF world press freedom report index – Asia-Pacific

Pacific Journalism Review 2011 media freedom report

It is time to put talk into action: Aust Parliament speech by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan)

Hansard Transcript of  Speech given to the Australian Parliament House of Representatives on Monday November 21,  by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan), Liberal Party of Australia.

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:42): Like others in this chamber I applaud the sentiment and goals expressed by President Obama in his address to the Australian parliament last week. His words do bear repeating, so I quote:

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and dignity of people around the world.

President Obama said that the larger purpose of his visit to this region was ‘our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia-Pacific’ and that ‘Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress’. He went on to say:

We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. … Every nation will chart its own course, yet it is also true that certain rights are universal. … As two great democracies we speak up for these freedoms when they are threatened. We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends. This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.

As I said in my maiden speech, in our region we have a particular responsibility to assist our developing friends, not in a patronising way but with a genuine hand of friendship and support. The developed world has not found a successful form of providing aid to our neighbours, in much the same way that we have much to learn in helping our own Indigenous Australians. In both cases we must persist, because if we fail we let our neighbours down—and, indeed, our first Australians.

I then went on to mention some of the many issues confronting our nearest neighbours. It is against this background that it is important that we acknowledge the respect for human rights that must be accorded to all people.

The people of West Papua are facing challenges that in many ways flow from colonial times, when lines were drawn on maps to suit the interests of colonial powers. As a country we have for more than 100 years been prepared to send our service men and women all over the world, not only into conflict situations but also as peacekeepers. Yet here, literally on our doorstep, we continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of one of our nearest neighbours.

On that note, with everyone focused on the Asia-Pacific region, as President Obama said, we must stand up for the fundamental rights of every human being. In particular I look to our neighbours in West Papua. Mark my words, history will judge us very harshly. Indeed, we will stand condemned for our lack of action and our lack of compassion. I call on the government in its close partnership with President Obama to ensure basic human rights and freedoms for the people of West Papua. It is time to put talk into action.

Asia-Pacific Region
Monday, 21 November 2011

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