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MEAA Protests Over Journalist Arrest At Woomera

MEAA Protests Over ABC Journalist Arrest At Woomera

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance is protesting at the arrest of an ABC journalist and restriction of media coverage at the Woomera Detention Centre. ABC Radio journalist, Natalie Larkins, was arrested on Saturday, January 26, for failing to leave Commonwealth land outside the Centre after media covering the hunger strike were forced behind a perimeter fence 800m away.

As a first step we have written to Prime Minister Howard, Federal Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, and Attorney General, Daryl Williams highlighting that this is the first time in decades trespass has been used as a means to restrict freedom of the media.

"It's frankly unbelievable that in this century the government would be resorting to these sorts of laws to prevent public reporting and debate on such an important issue," said Alliance Federal Secretary Christopher Warren. "The government is clearly getting in the way of the public knowing what's going on. This sort of legal trickery is unprecedented."

The Alliance has raised the issue with the International Federation of Journalists, the world's peak journalism organisation with around 450,000 members in more than 100 countries, who have written to the government and raised the issue with the major press freedom organisations including Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).

The media contingent had been reporting from the detention centre for over a week in a designated media area outside the front gate of the compound, which allowed them an uninterrupted view of the centre. On Saturday evening, Australian Protective Services (APS) staff forced the journalists behind a perimeter fence a further 200m away from the compound.

The Alliance urges you to contact the PM, Attorney General and the Minister for Immigration to register your disapproval of this unprecedented action taken against the media and this serious attack on the freedom of the media in Australia, urging them to drop the charges against Ms Larkins and reverse these restrictions against the media.

© Scoop Media

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