Samoa celebrates World Press Freedom Day

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Francis Vaigalepa (far left) and his family.

Francis Vaigalepa (far left) and his family.

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, U.N.E.S.C.O, F.A.O and U.N.D.P, in partnership with the School of Media and Journalism of the National University of Samoa, organised a seminar that brought together Communication Officers from government ministries and media representatives.  

More than thirty participants attended the event held on Thursday at the United Nations Compound, in Matautu-Uta.

The programme, focused on the theme “Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development”, included five informative presentations about different aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development followed in the afternoon by group activities.  

In his opening remarks, Alain Godonou, Director of U.N.E.S.C.O, highlighted that: “Public access to information and press freedom is vital to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies where sustainable development can be achieved.” 

When interviewed, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Lizbeth Cullity, said: “The media can contribute to improve people’s lives by explaining and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“The seminar mainly aimed at providing the journalists and communication practitioners with the tools and the knowledge they need to disseminate information relevant to the Samoan communities.” 

On the same day, participants attended an evening function where the N.U.S. Media and Journalism Students’ Annual Awards were celebrated.  During the reception, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi delivered the keynote address and congratulated the three students that were rewarded for their excellence. 

“The link between press freedom and sustainable development is made for the first time this year, following the adoption in late 2015 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The new Agenda for Sustainable Development recognize the need to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements,” said Tuilaepa.

“On this year’s World Press Freedom Index Samoa ranks 29th out of 180 countries. The Index measures the level of freedom available to journalists and it is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists. This is a tremendous result for a small island nation, something we should be proud of.”  

The Students’ Annual Awards, administered by the N.U.S. Media and Journalism Programme, are assessed and judged based on outstanding students who have exceptionally contributed to information gathering and dissemination online through its Facebook Page as part of their technical and vocational training.

The three winners were: Nefertiti Matatia (print and online category), Francis Vaigalepa (radio) and Katalina Tovia (TV). 

A media statement of commitment to promote and publicise the Sustainable Development Goals, crafted by the seminar’s participants and a Media and Advocacy Awards on S.D.Gs were also launched at the evening reception.

The event, was held at the N.U.S Fale.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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