Samoa has ranked 22 on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
This is according to Reporters without Borders, a group also known as Reporters Sans Frontières (R.S.F.).
In its annual report, they point to the liveliness of media outlets in Samoa – crediting the work of the Samoa Observer Group and Talamua Media among others.
Based in Paris, R.S.F. is an independent N.G.O. with consultative status with the United Nations, U.N.E.S.C.O., the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (O.I.F.). It was founded by four journalists in the southern French city Montpellier in 1985. R.S.F. is now one of the world’s leading N.G.Os in the defense and promotion of freedom of information.
According to the R.S.F., report on Samoa “the law criminalising defamation was repealed in 2013 raising hopes that were finally dashed in December 2017, when Parliament restored the law under pressure from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
“The grounds he gave were a supposed need to penalize so-called ‘ghost writers’ by which he above all meant those who dared to criticize members of his Government.”
The R.S.F. report also points to the Samoa Media Council law adopted in 2015 was welcomed, inter alia because it led to the adoption of a code of ethics in February 2017.
“But the Council’s decisions began to worry some journalists who thought the Government could use it as a weapon in the event of conflicts with the media.
“And in 2017, some accused the ruling Human Rights Protection Party of trying to use the Council to exercise less visible but more effective control over the Samoan media,” says the R.S.F. report.
The R.S.F. believes freedom of information is fundamental in any democracy, but nearly half of the world’s population has no access to freely reported news and information.
“Freedom of expression and information is the first and most important of freedoms.
“How can we combat atrocities against civilians, tackle the tragedy of child soldiers, defend women’s rights or defend our environment if journalists aren’t free to report the facts, draw attention to abuses and appeal to the public’s conscience?
“There are countries where the torturers stopped torturing when the media began talking about them and corrupt politicians abandoned shady practices when investigative journalists published compromising information.”
The R.S.F. is registered in France as a non-profit organisation since 1995, R.S.F. has distinguished itself in China, by its protests during the 2008 Beijing Olympics., in Africa by creating the only independent radio station broadcasting to Eritreans in 2009, in Haiti by creating a media support center after the January 2010 earthquake and more recently in Syria by providing training to journalists and bloggers.