PACIFIC NEWS ASSOCIATION ANSWERS CRITICS

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Fiji-based PINA struggles with censorship

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 1, 2010) – The Pacific Islands News Association, or PINA, has no intention of changing its approach to the interim Fiji government, despite criticism from members who’ve broken away from the organization.

The Cook Islands News editor, John Woods, who quit as vice president of PINA this week, says the regional agency is too willing to compromise with the regime in Suva.

He says PINA has reneged on its constitutional obligations to oppose censorship and media controls in Fiji.

But the president of PINA, Moses Stevens, has dismissed the criticism and says they’ll continue to work alongside the Fiji regime.

"Apparently some people don’t agree to how this board is carrying out its duty in terms of the media freedom situation in Fiji. And we have said many times that the government in Fiji is not a normal democratic government that’s in place. It’s a military regime and we cannot deal with the situation as we would deal with a normal democratically elected government , and we’ve responded to that."

A new media body, tentatively called the Pacific Media Association, has been launched, with John Woods as its spokesperson.

[PIR editor’s note: Woods told Radio Australia on Wednesday that publishers and broadcasters in Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands have indicated support for a new media organization. "Disillusionment has grown and spread throughout the region amongst journalists and amongst media operators because of the inaction of PINA" in the face of media repression by the Bainimarama regime, he said.]

He says a new association will promote media rights and be inclusive of all media working in the Pacific.

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