Sunday, December 23, 2007
The Timor Post has staff members who have been in constant fear for their lives since last year, when two of them were attacked and left for dead right outside their rundown office. Then again, other journalists in this young nation have had similar experiences. Last August, another major newspaper had its office windows smashed while one of its employees was struck repeatedly with rocks and sticks and his motorcycle trashed after he acknowledged that he worked for the paper. Ideally, this should not be happening in the world’s youngest democracy, which at one point had also been called by then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as "a child of the international community".
But as the media in other Southeast Asian nations have found out, keeping the press free is a constant battle that is fought daily – even in a supposed democracy. Just last week, for instance, about 50 journalists covering a coup attempt were handcuffed with plastic luggage fasteners and hauled off for questioning by Philippine authorities. As of June 2007, the Philippines has also seen some 90 media practitioners killed in the line of duty since democracy was restored in 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). Fifty-three of the killings, adds the NUJP, took place under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, 58 cases of violence against journalists were recorded between August 2006 to August 2007 by the Alliance of Independent Journalists. According to the body, "government apparatus" has become the new enemy of press freedom, since it is believed to have perpetrated 10 of the recorded assaults.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Nothing like a huge earthquake to sober you up! It was 8.55 pm. It started really slowly, just rocking a bit and we expected it to finish soon like normal. All of sudden there was a huge jolt, then about 20 seconds worth of more severe jolts. The huge press machine was clanking and bottles were hitting the floor. For some reason we all ran outside to the carpark. Only one photographer jumped under the table, and I'm pretty sure I screamed.
The lights went out at some stage during all of this and it took a few seconds of shivering in the carpark to start thinking again. About half a minute later we all realised what had happened and thought "Shit! Stories! Go!"
The Gisborne Herald is right in the centre of town and across the road from the Warehouse. We ran there straight away. It was crazy, people were coming out of the store - some with cuts others just in shock. Warehouse items had fallen from all the shelves and we spoke to people who had had to jump under a over turned couch to avoid getting hit by things.
Then we heard someone say buildings were down in town. (It's about now that I start feeling like a real reporter).
Another reporter and two photographers and I hailed down a truck, jumped on the back of it and asked it to take us into town where the buildings were down. The first building we saw badly damaged was Hallenstein's; its roof had collapsed and staff and customers were coming out of the rubble. I stayed here with our chief photographer, we spoke to the staff and customers who all had to hide under the tables. We climbed through the rubble a bit to help the staff members and get photos and a look at what happened.
Next we headed down town and went to several other buildings that had their ceilings come down with the earthquake. It was surreal... Image: Scoop
Merry Christmas Jess - and to all our Cafe Pacific readers!
- Surgeons worked by torchlight - by Jessica Wauchop
- Gisborne Herald
- Contact Jessica
- Earthquake claims reach $6 million - NZ Herald
Friday, December 14, 2007
Reporters Sans Frontieres has called on the French government to renew efforts to find out what happened to Jean-Pascal Couraud ("JPK"), editor of the French Polynesia daily Les Nouvelles de Tahiti, who vanished 10 years ago on 15 December 1997. He was allegedly assassinated. RSF said:
Recent developments suggest the enquiry into his presumed death can now move forward. It is urgent, morally and legally, that all elements in the case are revealed. The French authorities must not provide an argument for those who think French Polynesia is a place where shady deals are done or the law can be flouted.
Along with JPK’s family and his support committee, we hope that investigations will be above board and that his journalistic work will
be considered a possible motive for his disappearance.
Couraud was looking into reported transfers of money to former French President Jacques Chirac to a Japanese bank account through one in
French Polynesia. The sensitive nature of this and JPK’s disappearance
make it even more imperative to discover the truth.
The civil parties in the case finally managed in September to
get a copy of the case-file which strengthened their belief that JPK
was murdered. The Papeete investigating magistrate agreed on 20
November to add to the case-file items seized at the home of Gen
Philippe Rondot in connection with the Clearstream corruption case and
Chirac’s Japanese bank account, and also to take Judge Philippe
Stelmach off the case.
The lawyer for the civil parties, Max Gatti, says the discovery on Gen Rondot’s computer hard-drive of two documents about a bank account of former French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse proves that the material JPK said he had was a threat.
JPK’s former lawyer, Jean-Dominique Des Arcis, said in May that the journalist had details of transfers of funds between a large French Polynesia firm and a Chirac bank account. The lawyer will get a court hearing on 17 December and the civil parties have been authorised to check whether a link can be made between this material and the lawsuit they filed in 2004 for "murder and accessory to murder".
The French TV station France Inter will show a report on 16 December (in its programme "Interception," from 09:00-10:00) by journalist Benoît Collombat about Couraud’s disappearance called Sharks in Murky Waters.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I challenge our denial to education, our freedom of speech, and the fears we have of being rejected raped, abused, killed and much more as women in Papua New Guinea. The book confronts the issues, and searches for solution avenues through government and the laws of PNG. The book does not aim to degrade the men in PNG, but aims to educate, inform, and position them all as loving, respectable and honourable.
Good luck with your book, Christina.
Incidentally, on a quick online search, I noticed this quirky story in the Whangarei Leader (and a photo by Christina) about the day a fishing crew caught a wild pig at sea!
- Info about Christina's book at the Pacific Media Centre
- Ordering books? Email Christina Kewa direct
- Rip snorter catch brings home the bacon
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Brian Raymond Peters, in the company of fellow journalists Gary James Cunningham, Malcolm Harvie Rennie, Gregory John Shackleton and Anthony John Stewart, collectively known as "the Balibo Five", died at Balibo in Timor-Leste on 16 October 1975 from wounds sustained when he was shot and/or stabbed deliberately, and not in the heat of battle, by members of the Indonesian Special Forces, including Christoforus da Silva and Captain Yunus Yosfiah on the orders of Captain Yosfiah, to prevent him for revelaing that Indonesian Special Forces had participated in the attack on Balibo. There is strong circumstantial evidence that those orders emanated from the Head of the Indonesian Special Forces, Major-General Benny Murdani to Colonel Kalbuadi, Special Forces Group Commander in Timor, and then to Captian Yosfiah.
Coroner Pinch also recommended that a 'national industry-wide Safety Code of Practice for journalists' should be developed in partnership with Australia's media organisations.
Pictured: The five who were murdered - Greg Shackleton (clockwise from top left), Tony Stewart, Greg Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Pictures: Liz March. Top: Joe Barratt; centre: Ingrid Leary with Oxfam's Barry Coates; above: Pacific Radio News team Christine Gounder, Lito Vilisoni and Mema Maeli.
- AUT student journo wins award for anti-terror law story
- Other Joe Barratt and Scoop reports on the Urewera 17
- Hone Harawira on state terror
- Police go for trial by media
- Questions that need to be asked - Moana Jackson
- Pacific Radio News finalist at Media Peace Awards
- NZ Peace Foundation
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"The land issue is the legal, cultural and spiritual focus of almost all Maori grievances today. Many tribes, including mine, never even signed the treaty, so we just view our land as having been stolen. And above and beyond the Maori's spiritual relationship with their lands, you can make a very strong evidence-based argument for saying that the alienation of our land removed our whole economic base and distorted the whole range of social relationships. That's why this history is so important: for Maori, the injustices of the past have real implications for our present lives. We're still seeing their consequences.
"There has been some attempt to address the land issue, but not with any tremendous success: the Waitangi Tribunal, established in 1975 to hear complaints of alleged treaty violations, has in the 32 years of its existence registered 1,400 cases, heard around 150, issued 50 reports - and settled barely 20 claims, for a total value of just over NZ$700m."
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Both civil society groups have been strong critics of the post-coup regime. Ali told the Fiji Times that the FWCC acted constitutionally and denied being part of any assassination plot against members of the interim regime as well as senior members of the military. She said her movement was a human rights-based organisation and had no problems being questioned by police because all its activities were lawful. She added that all books were properly audited and there was no way any funding of an alleged assassination plot against Bainimarama and other members of his regime could happen.
"Every financial transaction is recorded in our books and we welcome any check by anyone interested," she told the Fiji Times. Heffernan told Radio NZ the regime should come clean with any evidence it had. Until it did so, this was just an "alleged plot". She also called for evidence of any plot in an interview with the Fiji Times, saying she believed it was also an attempt to divert attention from the military's failed attempts to have soldiers and police murder suspects in the Sakiusa Rabaka case leave the country under a United Nations mission to Iraq.
Ali said nobody deserved to be beaten up when being questioning over a criminal allegation.
Millionaire New Zealand citizen Ballu Khan was admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital - and is under heavy guard - after injuries suffered while in military and police custody on Saturday night. He was denied access to a lawyer over the weekend. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has condemned the abuse of human rights.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
"In no case will I change course. Yes, at the end of January, after all the stages of consultation and democracy have been completed, the (French) Polynesians will be able to one again decide for themselves about their future and their own destiny", Estrosi said during speech during a function at the French High Commissioner's residence with over three thousand guests in attendance. Earlier this week, Estrosi addressed French Polynesia's legislative assembly in similar terms to justify his plans for electoral reforms and snap elections for the French Pacific territory. Meanwhile, French MPs in the National Assembly are to initiate the debate on Estrosi's Bills on November 22, French media reported on Thursday. The Bill is scheduled to be tabled for the first time before the French Senate (Upper House) on November 12 and before the French National Assembly (Lower House) by the end of November 2007.
Since newly-elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed him in June 2007, Estrosi has embraced a hands-on approach to address a perceived spate of ongoing political instability in French Polynesia, for the past three years, which has already seen six Presidents come and go during that period, all of them ousted through motions of no confidence.
Monday, October 29, 2007
"'The junta attempted to sever the flow of information so that the picture of reality for people on both sides of the Burmese border would remain distorted," the report says. "As a result, the targets for censorship expanded exponentially from websites that are critical of the junta to any individual with a camera or cell phone and direct or indirect access to the internet.'
"The report says internet use increased within the country during the crisis because it was always possible to use censorship-evasion techniques. The intranet carried on functioning correctly and MPT provided a connection to the sites of military offices (ko-hite.blogspot.com, myochitmyanmar.blogspot.com and drlunswe.blogspot.com) and to those sites that offered no political news. Some sites such as dathana.blogspot.com and niknayman.blogspot.com did however post news about the demonstrations during the blackout that were not censored.
"'Many believe that the breakthrough uses of the internet over this period have enabled some irreversible gains," the report says. 'Multiple generations of Burmese living locally and abroad have found linkages to each other as blogging became increasingly recognised as a valuable source of information (...) even the vast majority of Burmese without access to or knowledge of the internet may have benefited from the enduring achievement of a small band of citizen bloggers and journalists.'"
Burma was ranked 164th out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2007 world press freedom index. Since the demonstrations got under way in September, eight journalists have been detained and a photographer has disappeared.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
sources (see story below). John, one of the pioneers of Australian journalism research by practitioners, says he would be interested in hearing about other journalists' experiences with legal and political attacks on source confidentiality.
Excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald (Oct 25, 2007) story about their awards: "[Melbourne] Herald Sun reporters Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey were convicted and fined in June for refusing to divulge the identity of a source who leaked information in 2004 about the workings of federal government veterans affairs policy. The pair argued they were upholding their professional code of ethics, but the judge ruled they were not immune to criminal charges. Brisbane's Jschool awarded Mr McManus and Mr Harvey honorary doctorates for their 'courageous stand in upholding the code of ethics by maintaining confidentiality of sources'."
Thursday, October 25, 2007
"It’s a grim time for democracy and civil rights in New Zealand with 17 'terrorism suspects' arrested in para-military raids across the country this month. For many people the situation is confusing at best but for those who know the people arrested it is astonishing. How could the police believe a group of Maori sovereignty activists, peace campaigners and environmentalists could pose a credible terrorist threat to New Zealand?
The police have raised the spectre of terrorism despite, after 15 months of intensive surveillance, no decision yet being made as to whether terrorism charges will be laid. In the meantime the damage is being done. The public are being softened up to accept that we have terrorism in New Zealand. Under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 a terrorist is defined as someone who, for political reasons, causes '…serious disruption to an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life…' This broad definition would include many of the protests against the 1981 Springbok tour. It threatens to demonise legitimate political dissent. Even people committed to non-violence with no intention to harm anyone or damage property can qualify as terrorists.
"Meanwhile the latest Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill is being pushed through Parliament. Under this law New Zealand would automatically adopt the UN (effectively the US) list of terrorists and terrorist organisations. A law like this in the 1980s would have made it illegal to provide support for the African National Congress in the fight against apartheid or for campaigns to have Nelson Mandela released from jail. Today groups such as Hamas, despite being democratically elected to government in occupied Palestine, would be a designated terrorist group (as it is in Australia).
"A Kiwi added to the list by another country (as a result of police action last week for example) would have great difficulty being removed from the list. Sweden and the Canada have faced huge difficulties with their citizens being designated in this way through the UN process. The new legislation also sidelines our courts in favour of the Prime Minister designating and then reviewing terrorist classifications. Why should the PM be judge and jury? Under this proposal someone like Ahmed Zaoui wouldn’t have had a chance. Prime Ministers are susceptible to international pressure. It is only a phone call away. At least with the courts there is the semblance of independent scrutiny.
"The government says the police, SIS and lawmakers are all working hand in hand to keep New Zealand safe. The truth is that our lawmakers are blindly putting in place savage attacks on civil rights while the police and SIS are eager to test their new powers and are excited at the prospect of joining the war on terror.
"As it is New Zealand’s anti-terror legislation is set up to demonise dissent and legitimate political protest while removing civil rights safeguards. Dissent provides the oxygen on which a democracy depends. We throttle it at our peril."
- No terror charges
- Immediate bail for all arrestees (innocent until proven guilty
- Withdraw the Terrorism Suppression Act and its amendments
Check out the website http://www.civilrightsdefence.org.nz/
Moana Jackson - extract from his "primer on terrorism allegations":
"Maori see symmetries between the Terrorism Suppression Act and the 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act. The targeting of mainly Maori as 'terrorists' in fact mirrors the earlier legislative labelling of those Iwi [that] resisted the land confiscations as 'rebels'. Tuhoe see particular parallels with the fatal police raid on Maungapohatu in 1916. The unthinking or deliberately provocative setting up of the latest police roadblock on the confiscation line simply add to the grievance and the sense of colonising deja vu."
GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION OCTOBER 27:
Saturday 27 October is an international day of action to defend civil liberties and oppose the use of terror laws. Stand up for all our rights. What is happening where.
Auckland: Demonstration Saturday Oct 27th at 12 noon meeting in Aotea Square.
Auckland marches against 'terror suppression' raid - Joe Barratt at Scoop
Previous posting - Hundreds protest over NZ state repression
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Leading Tuhoe activist and campaigner Tame Iti (right) was among the 17 arrested, as police swept Maori sovereignty, peace and environmental activist groups. Tuhoe people accused the police of terrorising an entire community with heavily armed raids and by boarding school buses. The Tuhoe tribe never signed the Treaty of Waitangi and has a long history of resistance for their tangata whenua rights against colonial and state rule. The police raids follow international pressures for New Zealand to adhere to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand was one of four countries that voted against the UN Declaration, along with the US, Canada and Australia. Mainstream media have been accused of being one-sided.
Former Listener editor Finlay Macdonald, writing in his weekly Sunday Star-Times column "Law of the jungle" , said: "Once again, the interests of national security trump those of open justice. Public scepticism quite reasonably grows. Last week's raids and arrests were conducted under both normal criminal law as well as the Terrorism Suppression Act, although no actual charges have been laid under the latter. The question has to be what distinguishes these alleged offences from any ordinary criminal or conspiracy case? As ever with issues such as these, we are implicitly asked to take the authorities on trust. Unfortunately, recent experience only encourages cynicism."
Auckland protest photo by Joe Barratt.
- Scoop report and pictures - Hundreds march for 'terror' accused
- Police fail to account for all 17 accused
- This average Kiwi bloke has had enough - Aziz Choudry
- Maori protest anti-terror raids
- Tame Iti among 17 arrests - Censored and under-reported news
- Video: Tuhoe - history of resistance
- Rua - Tuhoe prophet
- Civil Rights Defence resource website
Friday, October 19, 2007
- supported local industry group Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) since it was established in 2001;
- published the research journal Pacific Journalism Review - NZ's only such journal;
- sponsored scholarships for Pasifika undergraduate and postgraduate media students (nine so far - half of them already working in the media industry);
- established a new postgraduate Asia-Pacific journalism paper this year - the country's first;
- initiated international scholarships in Beijing, Jakarta and the Pacific; and
- provided impetus for Maori, Pasifika and other NZ media research.
Says Laban: "This centre demonstrates commitment to our cultural diversity, but also to critical thinking and the pursuit of excellence." Pictured: Luamanuvao and PMC director David Robie at the unveiling of the PMC plaque. Photo: Alan Koon.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
In her PJR paper, Sophie says that while some blog content was racist, defamatory, provocative and irresponsible, the argument for a free, responsible press has also been also strengthened as an option worth maintaining in any society. This edition of PJR has been produced jointly by the USP journalism programme and AUT University's Pacific Media Centre. PJR cover cartoon by top Kiwi cartoonist Malcolm Evans.
Incidentally, in the latest Reporters Sans Frontieres world press freedom index, bloggers are reported to be threatened as much as in international media.
- Voreqe no 'leper'
- Military blamed over blogs
- Bainimarama: People's charter could remove government
- Stand up to Oz, NZ 'bullying', says Labour
- Fiji Daily Post's report on the blogs - lifted by the newspaper verbatim from Pacific Media Watch (two days earlier)/Pacific Media Centre (four days earlier) without acknowledgement
- Sophie's actual article at Pacific Journalism Review
- Doubt hangs heavy over Fiji election
Monday, October 8, 2007
The survey revealed a generally ethical stance among journalists, with most agreeing that NZ journalists do not omit or distort relevant facts, and that stories are based on journalistic rather than political or commercial values. Asked to rate the quality of NZ news coverage, journalists rated sports coverage the highest, while foreign coverage got the lowest rating, at slightly below average.
The survey was conducted jointly by Massey University lecturers James Hollings, Alan Samson and Dr Elspeth Tilley, and Waikato University associate professor Geoff Lealand. It builds on Dr Lealand's previous surveys of NZ journalists.
The old and the new journos, according to cartoonist Malcolm Evans.
Friday, October 5, 2007
The additional countries or territories that the signal reaches are: Tahiti, Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Niue, Kiribati, Nauru, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea,Guam, The Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas.
There are three requirements in the Broadcasting Act which allow for Sunday morning advertising. The signal for the programme must:
1. Originate outside New Zealand;
2. Be transmitted simultaneously to both New Zealand audiences and audiences outside New Zealand;
3. Be targeted primarily at audiences outside New Zealand.
Who is convinced by TV3's claim about the primary audience outside NZ? It is a wildly optimistic estimate of a potential audience based on population only. And it is a dubious argument to be claiming a combined Pacific population of more than nine million - more than double New Zealand's population, when the critical figure is potential audience. Most of the 18 countries and territories listed have a limited interest in rugby union.
While it is true Papua New Guinea (6.2 million cited by TV3) has a far larger population than New Zealand, the TV audience is very small and the country is primarily a rugby league nation. Eighty percent of the people are rural villagers with limited access to TV and electricity. Various estimates put the potential TV audience for the national broadcaster EM TV (owned by Fiji TV's subsidiary Media Niugini) at between 500,000 and 600,000. The rugby broadcasts would be catering for a relatively small expatriate market and local audience.
There will be strong and enthusiastic audiences in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, of course, and Tahiti and New Caledonia (and perhaps Vanuatu) would have a keen interest in the France-All Greys quarterfinal at least. But it is hard to see much of a potential audience in some countries and territories such as Guam, the Marshall Islands and Northern Marianas.
- TV3's cup quarterfinal ads 'may breach Act'
- TV3 confirms plans for Sunday advertising
- All Blacks beaten by Michalak's magic
- In NZ, All Blacks are all-mighty - a SA Sunday Times view on NZ's rugby 'divine right'
- Inquest begins into shock All Blacks exit - Edward Gay on NZ Herald Online
- New Zealand trumped again - International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The commission, chaired by former Papua New Guinea National Court judge Brian Brunton, released an interim report but did not name the individuals or political groups involved.
Radio NZ International reported the commission as saying a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations were involved in executing a preconceived plan for a regime change following Snyder Rini’s election as prime minister.
The commission has also found that the Solomons government could be liable for damages of US$20 million for the loss of businesses destroyed during the riots. The report's executive summary says:
There is evidence that the 18th April 2006 civil unrest in Honiara was not spontaneous as was originally claimed but rather the event has the hallmark of having been orchestrated and planned in a broader sense of that word. There is now some evidence connecting the identity of a number of leading politicians, political groups and organisations who had in one way or another contributed to the execution of the planning for a regime change, should the previous government or elements of it return to power. The commission’s investigation is not at this stage sufficiently convinced it is in a position in which it is proper to name those individuals, political groups and organisations that were responsible for the planning.
In an earlier interim report in July, the inquiry found there had been failures by Australian police commanders of RAMSI leading up to the riots which also left dozens of Australians police injured.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Amirah is a young progressive Muslim woman, with a history of senior leadership in the student movement in Manila, and is a leader in groups such as the Moro Christian People's Alliance. She has an international profile. In March 2007 she was part of a Philippine human rights delegation which toured North America and Europe, drawing international attention to the human rights crisis at home.
The Philippine military has been waging a full blown conventional war in the southern Philippines since the 1970s (simultaneous to the better known and equally long war against the Communist guerrillas throughout the whole country). Right now that war is seeing some of its heaviest fighting in decades, with direct involvement from the US Special Forces who have been
stationed in the southern Philippines since 2002. It has had hugely negative consequences for the whole Muslim population in the South (including Amirah and her family) and it has now become part and parcel of Bush's global "War on Terror" against "Islamic terrorists". Indeed, he has proclaimed the Philippines to be "The Second Front" in that war.
Dates: October 23-November 1, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
The District Court of The Hague reportedly hasn't precluded him from being prosecuted on murder charges. Spokesperson Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office told the Inquirer: "The charges are not being dropped. The investigation will continue." The Malacañang is still hoping that the case against the communist leader will proceed.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.
The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.
It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of vote, noted that New Zealand was one of the few countries that from the start had supported the elaboration of a declaration that promoted and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, indigenous rights were of profound importance, and were integral to its identity as a nation State and as a people. New Zealand was unique: a treaty concluded at Waitangi between the Crown and New Zealand’s indigenous peoples in 1840 was a founding document of the country. Today, New Zealand had one of the largest and most dynamic indigenous minorities in the world, and the Treaty of Waitangi had acquired great significance in the country’s constitutional
arrangements, law and Government activity.
The place of Maori in society, their grievances and disparities affecting them were central and enduring features of domestic debate and Government action, she said. New Zealand also had an unparalleled system for redress, accepted by both indigenous and non-indigenous citizens alike. Nearly 40 per cent of the New Zealand fishing quota was owned by Maori, as a
result. Claims to over half of New Zealand’s land area had been settled. For that reason, New Zealand fully supported the principles and aspirations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The country had been implementing most of the standards in the Declaration for many years. She shared the view that the Declaration was long overdue, and the concern that indigenous peoples in many parts of the world continued to be deprived of basic human rights.
New Zealand was proud of its role in improving the text over the past three years, turning the draft into one that States would be able to uphold and promote, she said. It was, therefore, a matter of deep regret that it was unable to support the text before the Assembly today. Unfortunately, New Zealand had difficulties with a number of provisions of the text. In particular, four provisions in the Declaration were fundamentally incompatible with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal arrangements, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the principle of governing for the good of all its citizens, namely article 26 on lands and resources, article 28 onredress, articles 19 and 32 on a right of veto over the State.
The provision on lands and resources could not be implemented in New Zealand, she said. Article 26 stated that indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop or control lands and territories that they had traditionally owned, occupied or used. For New Zealand, the entire country was potentially caught within the scope of the article, which appeared to requirerecognition of rights to lands now lawfully owned by other citizens, both indigenous andnon-indigenous, and did not take into account the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
The taking of the defence portfolio by the Prime Minister and the suppression of the report, all conjure up images reminiscent of the Watergate Affair in the United States – those of us who were alive in the 1970's (are familiar with this). The Watergate Affair that led to the resignation of a president of the United States few steps ahead of impeachment. One can’t help but be reminded (that) the whole (Moti) saga is so reminiscent, for those of us who were around in the 1970s.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The decision comes almost five years after Ahmed Zaoui arrived in New Zealand and four years after the Refugee Status Appeals Authority concluded that he should be granted asylum following his experiences in Algeria and in exile. Says Amnesty International's executive director in NZ:
The Ahmed Zaoui case has highlighted the fragility of our commitment as a country to basic human rights. Too many New Zealanders, including members of Parliament who should be more aware than most of the importance of human rights, were content to ignore the August 2003 decision of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority and condemn Mr Zaoui without access to the facts.
Too many were prepared to make cheap jibes about how a survivor of torture who had been in enforced exile for a decade and kept for 10 months in solitary confinement in a New Zealand prison was "abusing New Zealand hospitality", "costing the taxpayers too much", and was "free to jump on a plane at any time". Mr Zaoui's counsel has had to fight summary justice all the way.
An apology is now due to Ahmed Zaoui for New Zealand's poor handling of his case. And his family should be able to join him at the earliest opportunity, as called for by UNHCR. As Selwyn Manning said on KiwiFM, the five-year struggle for justice for Ahmed Zaoui as a refugee revealed the ugly side of NZ.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Firstly, we have to shift our minds away from the narrow, exclusivist, partisan and self-serving political agenda and begin to see the interest of the nation as paramount. That is the bottom line.
We all have our party, religious, organisational, vanua and personal loyalties and interests, however, at this point in time, these should be subservient to the common national good. Despite official optimism, our economy is not doing well, investor confidence is down, socio-political relations are at their lowest and national moral is in tatters.
Yet despite all these we are still trying to win political and moral points over our adversaries as if that will solve our collective problems when the opposite is in fact happening.
Secondly, on a more practical note, we need to identify the good suggestions from both sides and synthesise them into a common proposal for national reconciliation. Both the proposed People's Charter and Ratu Inoke's proposal contain points worth considering and discussing.
Thirdly, we urgently need to put in place a reconciliation process as well as a framework for political stability for the future before the election. To do that after the election, although constitutionally legitimate, would be politically too late. Since the hurt and pain are very deeply embedded, the election could become an arena for expressions of anger, vindictivenessand vengeance and these have the potential to rear their ugly heads again after the election.
Historically, political instabilities in Fiji have only happened after elections. The pre-election differences, antagonism and volatility will haunt us once again after the next election if we are not careful. That's why it is important to put in place a reconciliation and post-election governance framework we all agree on well before the election. - Fiji Times photo with Ratuva article
Sunday, September 9, 2007
First the good news: Charges against Tonga's five People's Representatives accused over last November's rioting in Nukualofa, Tonga, have been cut back. The bad news? The outspoken MPs are still the Tongan establishment's main scapegoats for the rioting. They're now still facing one charge of sedition each. Chief Justice Anthony Ford has announced the drop of some charges in the Supreme Court.
According to Matangi Tonga, pro-democracy advocates 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Isileli Pulu, Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and Lepolo Taunisila, first appeared in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court on July 18 and were charged with one count of sedition and six counts of abetment to cause disruption resulting in the destruction of six different premises, including the Molisi Tonga Supermarket, Pacific Royale Hotel, Tungi Arcade, Shoreline Building, Fung Shing Supermarket and the Leiola Duty Free Shop in the November 16 riot.
Chief Justice Ford told the court that it had received notice two days ago that Crown Law intended to withdraw the previous indictments and file new indictments of sedition only against each accused. All five accused were all present in court, pleading not guilty. Pictured: Scoop photo of 'Akilisi Pohiva
Friday, September 7, 2007
Bainimarama and his band of merry men have now confirmed beyond any doubt of Fiji's status as a banana republic.
Until now, the people of Fiji lived in hope that the Fiji Military and it supporters and apologists were genuinely interested in helping move the country forward.
This latest action by the military and its installed puppet government leaves no doubt that they are only interested in keeping themselves in power.
People should be allowed to voice their opinions freely and not be held hostage by the gun.
The only positive way forward for Fiji is for all leaders (political, communal, military, business and religious) to work together and find common ground. By rejecting or ignoring certain factions or sectors will only delay a feasible solution to Fiji's problems.
It is the time for negotiations to start, goodwill to prevail, and a return to democracy.
The Coalition dor Democracy has called on the Fiji military to respect the rule of law and to follow constitutional processes to help resolve issues and disagreements.
The CDF is a group made up of former Fiji residents, and concerned New Zealanders. It has been active since 1987 in support of the fight for the rights of Fiji people and Fiji democracy.
Contact Nik Naidu.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
High Court Judge Justice Roger Coventry also ruled that the Attorney General as sixth defendant be liable to payout $250,000 plus five per cent interest.
The army officers whom Justice Coventry had previously found to be represented by the Attorney General have been ordered to pay Anirudh a further $150,000 plus five per cent interest.
University of the South Pacific academic Anirudh, an outspoken campaigner for human rights, was abducted from his home in Rewa Street, Suva, by five soldiers from the Special Operations Security Unit and taken to the forests of Colo-i-Suva where he was hooded, beaten up and tortured.
The five soldiers involved, including former Special Air Services officer Captain Sotia Ponijese, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12 months in jail. In 1993 Dr Singh took the case to the High Court claiming general, special and exemplary damages for his pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Ironically, the judgment came on the same day that the current regime in Fiji reimposed its state of emergency and a further clamp on free speech!
Inset: Auckland Star clipping of one of my stories about the abduction and torture of Anirudh Singh, 17 December 1990.
High Court awards $400,000 plus to Dr Singh
Keep quiet, Qarase told
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
What are The BOBs?
For the next four weeks, internet users are invited to go to www.thebobs.com to nominate the best blogs in 15 categories. The competition is open to blogs, podcasts and videoblogs in the following 10 languages - Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Portugese, Russian and Spanish.
The BOBs are the world’s biggest international blog awards and offer a broad overview of the blogosphere, the rapidly evolving world of weblogs, videoblogs and podcasts. The winners are chosen by the public and a jury. Last year, more than 5,500 blogs were nominated and more than 100,000 Internet users took part in the online voting.
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