Pacific Media Watch

16 April 2016

FIJI: Human rights violations blamed on silence and 'looking the other way'

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PMC director Professor David Robie speaking at the three-day conference in Nadi this week. Image: Jilda Shem/RRRT

Margaret Wise
NADI, Fiji: (The Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch): Human rights violations take place when people are silent or look away.

This was the message conveyed to journalists by Romulo Nayacalevu, a senior human rights adviser with the Secretariat for the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team.

Nayacalevu spoke at the Enhancing a Human Rights-based Approach to News Reporting Forum in Nadi this week and focused on strengthening the role of journalists in “rights-based reporting”.

He stressed the need for journalists to continuously be advocates of values that are treasured by humankind.

"Abuse flourishes when there is a deafening silence," he said.

He referred to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — the international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Described as an international Bill of Rights for women, it was instituted on September 3, 1981 and has been ratified by 189 states.

"Almost the whole world has ratified CEDAW but violations continue. People are becoming more educated but we still do not frown on actions that violate women's rights.

West Papua threat
"In West Papua, humanity is under threat - not by invading species but by humans."

Media educator and director of Auckland University of Technology's Pacific Media Centre Professor David Robie gave a multmedia address on human rights advocacy global efforts to reintroduce ethics and compassion into journalism.

Participants also heard there was inadequate understanding of human rights, governments' responsibilities and how they were promoted and enforced — not only by the media but by the general public as well.

Senior journalists and government communications officers from 13 Pacific Island countries attended the human rights and media forum.

It was organised by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team in partnership with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) and the University of the South Pacific's (USP) journalism program.

The workshop, held at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel, was supported by the Australian Government and the European Union.

Read Margaret Wise's "Reporting on human rights"

Asia Pacific Report story + video

David Robie's Café Pacific on Pacific human rights + video

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