AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop/Pacific Media Watch): The Pacific Media Centre and Reporters Without Borders have called for justice over the controversial Ampatuan massacre trial that has failed to imprison any alleged perpetrators five years after the mass killings of media people.
PMC director Professor David Robie said at a candlelight vigil for the victims and the families in Auckland last night the trial embodied the struggle against impunity of crimes against media.
He read out a joint statement with the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other human rights groups and Filipino organisations also spoke out at the vigil, coinciding with a three-day Pacific Journalism Review conference at AUT University.
“This is an assault on all Filipinos’ right to life, the right to free expression, and their right even to have choices in their leaders.”
Fifty eight people who were in a political convoy were massacred on 23 November 2009 – 32 of them journalists and media workers in Maguindanao in the Southern Philippines.
“Press freedom and freedom of information are tightly linked to the outcome of this trial,” said the joint PMC and RSF statement.
“Our organisations wish to reaffirm their support to all families of journalists and all organisations and individuals involved in supporting and defending them.
“Because it is the culture of impunity that has allowed the killers and those who gave them their orders to execute so many journalists, in all parts of the country, we also urge the government of the Philippines to do its utmost to:
• prevent violence against journalists and media workers,
• conduct speedy and effective investigations into all cases of violence against journalists; and
• bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Coalition joined other groups in calling on the Philippines government to:
• end the culture of impunity
• stop the killing of journalists;
• speed up the trial of the Ampatuan/Maguindanao massacre;
• give justice to the families of the massacre victims;
• punish the perpetrators;
• stop the rule by dynasty
Amnesty International executive director Grant Bayldon said: “Five years on it is important for people not to forget. Journalists are so important, not only in the Philippines but in the rest of the world.”
About 60 people took part in the vigil, mainly attended by media educators, journalists and human rights advocates take part in a conference hosted by the Pacific Media Centre marking 20 years of publishing the research journal Pacific Journalism Review.
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