World Media Freedom Day Today

Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu Bernie Link speaking on Buzz 96 FM with Kizzy Kalsakau last year. Photo: U.S. Embassy

Without a free, neutral and active media, democracy is meaningless.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) President, Kora Nou made this clear in his statement on World Media Freedom Day 2019.

“Today May 3, hundreds of thousands of media workers across the globe will gather to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. Here in the Pacific, national media organisations are organising activities to celebrate the day and be reminded of the important role the media plays in promoting democracy and rule of law,” he stated.

“The media can only play this role well if it is guaranteed freedom of expression to deliver messages to the people without being oppressed or

intimidated by authorities or any entities that have authority to prevent information from the people.

“This year’s general theme is ‘The role of the Media in Elections and Democracy.’

“The PINA takes this opportunity to remind our Leaders that prevention of

access to information to citizens is a violation of human rights.”

Mr Nou stressed media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy.

“It is the backbone of a democracy. Media makes us aware of various social, political and economic activities happening around us daily. It is like a mirror, which shows us or strives to show us the bare truth and harsh

realities of life.

“The media has undoubtedly evolved to become more active over the years – particularly in the coverage of national elections.

“Social media has become a new battle ground for political campaigning in the Pacific – as seen recently with the Fiji elections in November last year and last week’s general election in Solomon Islands.

The excessive ‘real time and live’ coverage during elections helps people to make informed choices on electing the right person to power.

“The media also exposes corruption in the democratic system in the hope that governments will address these problems and put in place policies and systems that are accountable and transparent and serve its

citizens well.

“Without a free, neutral and active media, democracy is meaningless. Media is often referred to as the fourth branch of government, or the Fourth Estate because of the power they wield and the oversight

function they exercise.”

The PINA President mentioned another example of the linkage between

democracy and the rule of law is electoral justice and the media has an important role in ensuring these linkages are strengthened.

“Electoral justice ensures that every action, procedure and decision related to the electoral process is in line with the law and that the enjoyment of electoral rights is protected and restored, giving people who believe their electoral rights have been violated, the ability to file a complaint, get a hearing and receive an adjudication,” he stated.

“An electoral justice system is a key instrument of the rule of law and the ultimate guarantee of compliance with the democratic principle of holding free, fair and genuine elections.

“As we celebrate this day, let us be reminded that some of our colleagues in the Pacific and around the world still work in restrictive environments that forces them to self-censor information to the general public. We urge

those in authorities to remove these restrictions and allow the media to do its work without fear or favour.

“PINA salutes all media workers throughout the Pacific for their perseverance in advocating and defending their right to report and express themselves freely despite restrictions to do so.

“Happy World Media Freedom Day 2019!”

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