Pacific Media Watch newsdesk
The Media Association of Solomon Islands (Masi) has called on the police to respect journalists and media workers when carrying out their work in a public space after officers harassed two media people trying to film the prime minister, reports the Solomon Star.
Masi said in a statement that the incident happened at the National Parliament precinct this week when police confronted two members of the press, asking them not to film Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on his arrival.
Masi president Georgina Kekea said Solomon Islands was a democratic country and freedom of the press was guaranteed under article 12 of the Constitution.
She said Sogavare was a public figure and the incident happened when he was carrying out his duty as a parliamentarian and prime minister of his country.
Masi was surprised to hear of the incident and Kekea said it was hoped that it was just a mistake by the police.
“If the press are not allowed to carry out their duties without fear or intimidation, then we are doomed as a democratic country,” Kekea said.
“There are different roles that each of us play in society and the police must respect this.
“Had the incident occurred at the prime minister’s private residence, then it should be a concern for his Close Personal Protection team.
‘A national duty’
“However, this incident occurred just in the Parliament precinct where he was on his way to carry out a national duty. This should not be an issue at all,” the Masi president said.
Kekea said members of the press were “not the enemy” and should not be treated as such either. She said journalists were doing their jobs just like any other profession.
“Our job is to gather information through interviews, filming and of course we write news pieces and present them to the public. I know there are instances where a few articles published by the press are deemed irresponsible.
“This however should not be the reason to restrict journalists or members of the press from doing their job.
“If the police or the government is concerned about such articles being a threat to national security, they should work on improving or developing effective communication strategies.”
Kekea said the action by the police showed a lack of understanding of the work of journalists and the role of the media.