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Author blasts ‘copycat’ cybercrime laws

Author blasts ‘copycat’ cybercrime laws, killing of journalists


AUCKLAND (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.

On Friday, a vigorous panel on press "freedom" in Fiji was hosted by the University of the South Pacific journalism programme. Among other World Press Freedom Day events, AUT University's Pacific Media Centre and the NZ National Commission for UNESCO will on Tuesday host an annual lecture by media commentator and former New Zealand Herald editor-in-chief Dr Gavin Ellis entitled "No-one died covering celebrity news".

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