Orbicom set to publish book on media, peace and conflict resolution
Paris, September, 26th, 2017 (UNESCO). The freedom, independence and safety of journalists is vital for peace and dialogue. This is the key argument made in a forthcoming compendium set to be published by Orbicom – the international network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication. It will bring together over a dozen of papers presented at the sixth edition of the Orbicom symposium held in May in Jakarta, Indonesia. The symposium, held alongside UNESCO’s global World Press Freedom Day conference in May, was opened by Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysia’s former prime minister and subsequently hosted for dinner by Mr Rudiantara, Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology. The central theme of the forthcoming book concerns the media conditions needed for creating space for peace and resolving conflicts. This argument is developed in a paper presented at the Jakarta symposium, by Guy Berger, Director of the Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO. Berger’s paper highlights the interface of the norm of free expression with the issues of culture and peace, and highlights UNESCO’s promotion of conflict-sensitive journalism amongst reporters, along with media and information literacy competencies amongst social media users. A UNESCO-sponsored speaker at the symposium, Wallace Chuma of Cape Town University, pointed to the different factors impacting on journalism and peace in Africa, including organisational and professional (media) cultures, media funding and financing, ownership and structural factors, as well as political factors. The forthcoming book is expected to feature other papers presented by African journalism professors who were supported by UNESCO to participate in the Jakarta symposium. These include an analysis of the “International Court of Justice as an agent of peace journalism” in Kenya by Levi Obonyo of Daystar University. Other papers by UNESCO-sponsored participants are: "Language dynamics and the construction of peace around the Malagasy crises: Lived and projected through the media" by Madagascar’s Lucie Rabaovololona. "Media narrative construction of human rights abuse in Nigeria" by Abiodun Salawu of South Africa’s North-West University. The publication is being spearheaded by Prof. Andi Faisal Bakti, the newly established UNESCO Chair for Communication and Sustainable Development at Indonesia’s Pancasila University. Prof. Bakti was the host of the symposium, which was attended by almost 70 participants. The next Orbicom symposium is scheduled for Lima in 2018. Such symposia are held annually to bring together the over 30 UNESCO Chairholders in communication and 300 associate members of the Orbicom network.
Journalists kept at bay during Papua New Guinea elections
Port Moresby, July, 25th, 2017 (RSF). Many media freedom violations were noted during the general elections held in Papua New Guinea from 24 June to 8 July. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns them, including a gag order on a well-known blogger as a result of a complaint by the head of the electoral commission Papua New Guinea is a country that is not often showcased in the media. The country is usually not known for his media freedom violations (it is ranked 51st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index), however, recently, this Pacific country has hit the news. Indeed, the electoral period was characterized by many violations: journalists who went to cover the elections in the northern province of Madang were kept at bay by the police and the electoral commission. In the capital, Port Moresby, the media were not allowed to film or take photos in the city’s main vote- counting centre. Amid many reports on social networks of vote-buying and violence, the authorities also took alarming measures against citizen-journalists, most notably blogger Martyn Namorong after he referred to electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato as a “tomato” in one of his many posts criticizing the chaotic elections. The national court, located in the Port Moresby district of Waigani, responded by issuing a gag order, banning Namorong from publishing further “defamatory remarks” on Facebook and Twitter. “Journalists and citizen-journalists have a duty to inform the public about what has gone wrong during an election.” RSF said. “The courts and the authorities must recognize that Martyn Namorong committed no crime and must therefore lift the censorship order imposed on him.” An international NGO that defends the freedom to inform, RSF added: “A country cannot claim to be democratic just because it holds elections. It must also respect and protect media freedom, which is the cornerstone of every democracy.” Namorong’s lawyer, Christine Copland, said her client had no chance to speak when the gag order was imposed because court officials said they could not locate him to serve the documents. Namorong’s response to the order was to post a photo of himself blindfolded and gagged. After another hearing was scheduled for tomorrow, he tweeted: “I am as cool as a cucumber about tomorrow’s hearing as my lawyers are no couch potatoes.”