A woman holds a placard that reads, "I am Charlie", during a vigil at Trafalgar Square in London. Photo / Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
Rarotonga, Cook Islands, Thursday 8th January 2015
World governments including France must do much more against impunity for those who attack journalists, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"It is no use governments just praising the Fourth Estate as vital to democracy," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi, in the wake of the attack in Paris, France.
"They must do much, much more against those who attack news media, including prosecuting those who are currently acting with impunity."
Two gunmen forced their way into the newsroom of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly newspaper, and shot dead four cartoonists including the editor, along with six others. Two policemen were also killed responding to the attack.
The gunmen struck after police protection at the weekly was reportedly wound down following years of threats.
Witnesses said the gunmen appeared highly trained, struck with military precision and spoke perfect French.
Jeannette Bougrab - a former minister in Francois Fillon's government - and partner of the editor said that state authorities did not take continued death threats against the newspaper seriously enough, and that the attack could have been deterred if proper security was in place.
PFF is calling on France to investigate not just the attackers, but also what happened to security forces that were supposed to be protecting the newspaper.
PFF is questioning how the scene of the attack could be made safe enough for the French president to visit within an hour, and for photos of the alleged assailants to be released the same day.
"The blood of these brave journalists is not just on the hands of the attackers but also spattered over the French state," says PFF co-Chair Monica Miller.
"Those journalists may still be alive today if all the brave words that France espouses about the traditions of democracy were actually put into effect."
The attack is thought to be the second worst media massacre in history, after the infamous 2009 attack in the Philippines that saw 32 media workers killed and buried in a mass grave.
Elsewhere in the Pacific region, governments in Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia have been accused of failing to prosecute those responsible for the deaths of journalists.
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PFF Chair Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: email@example.com
PFF co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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