World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

New Year call for Samoa to consult on media crime law

New Year call for Samoa to consult on media crime law

‘ Concerns about bloggers should not override citizen rights to speak freely, without fear ‘

> 1961 > 2017 >timeline of Samoa criminal speech laws >

1961: Outgoing NZ admin introduces criminal libel
1962: Full full independence
2013: Criminal libel withdrawn from Crimes Act 1961
2015: New Samoa Media Council
2017: Criminal libel law passed
2018: Call for consultation

FOR | IMMEDIATE RELEASE
REPORTS | APIA, PAGOPAGO, PORT MORESBY, KOROR
DATELINE | RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS

New criminal libel laws need urgent consultation in Samoa at the start of the new year, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“Lack of consultation before the bill was pushed through parliament is good reason to consult more widely now,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.

Consultations should include a wide range of representatives from across society, says Miller, speaking from American Samoa.

Old and new media should be represented at consultations, including bloggers and other social media users such as on Facebook, as well as newspaper, radio, television audiences, and all voices supporting freedom of expression.

“Government and all media users need to sit at the same table to work out how the new laws fit with existing institutions, including the courts and the Samoa Media Council.”

Concerns about anonymous bloggers should not override the right of citizens to speak freely, without fear of being jailed, says Miller.

“Media are right to criticise the return to a colonial-era law, from half a century ago.”

Samoa libel critics - Criminal speech laws threaten social media users and journalists with arrest, police charges, prosecution, fines, legal fees and, potentially, jail. / Image / PFF

But she also says media need to engage with other institutions on agreed ways to avoid potential threats to media and other freedoms, such as with the Attorney General’s office and the Samoa Law Commission.

Speaking from Papua New Guinea, PFF co-Chair Alexander Rheeney says Pacific people already have the right to seek civil court action on alleged libel.

Returning libel to criminal courts means Samoa is stepping back from its regional leadership role in good goverance, says Rheeney.

“We have already seen examples around the region of governments using millions in tax dollars to fund civil action against news media”, he says.

“Samoa media users, new and old, now risk jail time and criminal fines despite constitutional guarantees for freedom of speech.”

Outside of the constitution, Samoa is also a member of the United Nations, where article 19 of the 1946 Universal Declaration of Human Rights also guarantees freedom of expression, and access to information.

Speaking from Palau, fellow PFF co-Chair Bernadette Carreon says government would have been better off introducing freedom of information laws, not turning journalism into a crime again.

“We’re stuck with it now, so consultations need to set our clear policy for criminal libel action, especially from within government,” she says.

PFF is calling for complainants to be encouraged to explore existing procedures, such as writing an official complaint to media outlets, or to the Samoa Media Council, before seeking arrests under criminal media laws.

HEADLINES :

Samoa parliament votes to bring back libel law https://www.radionz.co.nz/internati...
Criminal Libel Law passed http://www.samoaplanet.com/criminal...
P.M. defends Criminal Libel law http://samoaobserver.ws/en/24_12_20...
Govt. brings back Criminal Libel law in hunt for ‘Ghost writers’ http://www.samoaobserver.ws/en/03_1...
Criminal Libel Law to “regulate troublemakers” says PM http://www.samoaplanet.com/criminal...
Samoa journalists association says govt undermining media https://www.radionz.co.nz/internati...
Media freedom 'at risk' in Samoa https://www.radionz.co.nz/internati...

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN Rights Office On Syria: The “Monstrous Annihilation” Of Eastern Ghouta

Since the Syrian Government and their allies escalated their offensive against opposition-held Eastern Ghouta on 4 February, there have been more than 1,200 civilian casualties, including at least 346 killed and 878 injured, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas... Ninety-two of these civilian deaths allegedly occurred in just one 13-hour period on Monday. More>>

ALSO:

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:


Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:

Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC