Community Radio Round-table to be staged for World Press Freedom Day

CAPTION: Sharon Bhagwan Rolls. File Photo.

A Community Radio Round-table organised by FemLINKPacific in collaboration with GPPAC Pacific will be addressing the 2013 Theme for World Press Freedom Day: “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media”

The community radio round-table which will be staged in Suva on May 3 will bring together community radio producers and broadcasters and civil society partners to discuss the way in which civil society can utilise community radio as a safe space to highlight human security and peace-building priorities.

“It is critical to ensure that particularly as part of Fiji’s democratization process there is a plurality of voices and diversity of viewpoints as as it is vital that the way forward takes a peace-building approach,” says FemLINKPacific’s Executive Director, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls.

As a member organisation of GPPAC – the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, FemLINKPacific is committed to promoting peace and security from a preventive action and we believe the media plays a vital role in promoting human security, justice and people-centred development.

Celebrating Community Radio:
The roundtable will also coincide with the 9th anniversary of Fiji and the Pacific’s first women led community radio station which FemLINKPacific launched on May 5, 2004 to provide a media and communication platform to enhance women and young women’s engagement in defining their peace and devlopment priorities:

“A free media landscape is essential for peace and security. More and more community media including community radio is providing the communication rights platform to enable voices of communities particularly the most marginalised to be heard,” said Bhagwan-Rolls, “And it is critical that regulatory frameworks including legislation uphold communication rights and ensure the safety and security of all media producers including new-media activists.”

Pacific communication rights activists, according to Bhagwan-Rolls are committed to:

(`1) Advocate for a just, inclusive and peaceful Pacific where peoples can claim their legitimate right to self determination through renewed relationship with ecumenical and civil society partners in the islands and across the region;
(2) Use communication rights to address poverty of information and communication in order to ensure that National and Regional ICT policies are more accountable to community priorities and develop a Pacific constituency of communication rights campaigners and advocates
(3) Enhance the capacity of and leadership for women, young women and men to produce content that communicates their human rights which contributes to a sustainable network
(4) Provide leadership training and capacity building to current leaders on a periodical basis to transcend power or to current leaders to challenge the status quo.

Background to World Press Freedom Day:
According to a UN press statement, World Press Freedom Day celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013.
The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

It is an opportunity to:
– celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
– defend the media from attacks on their independence;
pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

There is a growing awareness that ensuring freedom of expression must also necessarily extend to safety online.

World Press Freedom Day 2013 focuses on the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight, in particular, on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for online safety.


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