Monday, February 20, 2006

Samoa's Leaders Receive World Press Freedom Day 2004 Awards

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni were presented World Press Freedom Day 2004 awards in Apia this week. The awards by JAWS (Journalists Association of Western Samoa) were in recognition of the two leaders' strong support of media freedom, said JAWS president Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia.
Autagavaia told UNESCO-supported World Press Freedom Day ceremonies at Hotel Kitano Tusitala of the major changes that had taken place in Samoa in recent years. This meant Samoa's news media are now amongst the most free in the Pacific Islands, he said. The award citation hailed Tuilaepa for "his unceasing promotion of and belief in transparency, accountability and good governance". Misa's award citation hailed "his unceasing promotion of and belief in freedom of information and freedom of expression". Autagavaia and Samoa Observer editor-in-chief Savea Sano Malifa, in remarks during the award ceremony, outlined the freedom of expression and information Samoa today enjoys. But both also appealed to the government to remove remaining restrictions. They urged Tuilaepa, Misa and their cabinet colleagues to:
remove the Printing and Publishing Act introduced by late former Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana to try to force news media to reveal their sources of information;and
remove the criminal libel laws, which Autagavaia described as a relic from the colonial past.Autagavaia also urged Tuilaepa and Misa to encourage the government-owned national TV and radio services to be more accessible to all viewpoints. He said senior state-run radio and TV station people should not be scared to put all viewpoints and news on air.

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