24 Jun 2013

Pacific watchdog critical of Samoa's media treatment

3:37 pm on 24 June 2013

A regional media freedom group says Samoa's reputation of good governance is at risk because of Parliament's treatment of the media.

The Pacific Freedom Forum responded to the speaker La'auli Leuatea Polata'ivao who has threatened prison sentences and fines for media if they abuse their privilege of reporting on Parliament.

He said media should only refer to official hansard, but media say repeated requests for access to hansard are not answered.

The PFF's co-chair, Monica Miller, says freedom of speech is a fundamental right and the speaker's comments betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the necessary separation of powers between parliament, government, courts and the press.

The speaker's threats were in reaction to the publication of a heated exchange in Parliament between the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and the deputy Tautua Samoa Party leader, A'eau Peniamina Leavai.