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NEWS RELEASE April 23, 1999

A Pacific Islands woman was today elected to chair a global network of media freedom and freedom of expression organizations.

Nina Ratulele, of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), was elected convener (chairperson) of the governing council of IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange. I t came during IFEX’s annual conference, now under way in Cape Town, South Africa.

IFEX is the major international grouping of media freedom and freedom of expression organizations. It was born in 1992 when many of the world's leading media freedom organizations came together in Montreal, Canada, to discuss how best to further their collective goals. Today it brings together organizations promoting and defending media freedom and freedom of expression throughout the world.

Ms. Ratulele was nominated by the Independent Journalism Centre of Nigeria, seconded by the Pakistan Press Foundation; and her election was greeted with acclamation. She had been voted on to the IFEX council during the IFEX conference in Paris the previous year.

PINA president William Parkinson said: "Today’s election is tremendous international recognition of the work PINA does promoting and defending freedom of information and expression. Nina has been in the forefront of this as the very dedicated and extremely hard-working coordinator of our PINA Pacific Freedom of Information Network.

"Our membership of IFEX has played a very, very valuable role in our defense of media freedom throughout our region. Through IFEX we have been able to quickly mobilize not just regional but international support when there have been attacks. This has even included legal help in the courts for our Pacific Islands editors, journalists and news organizations.

"Through IFEX we have also been able to get international recognition of Pacific Islands issues. Recent international awards to some of our members have been helped by this.

"Nina’s election will obviously strengthen our links with the international media freedom and freedom of expression community even further."

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