New Caledonia’s women sit-in to support smeared Kanak journalist

"Press freedom in New Caledonia" . . . a banner supporting Kanak journalist Thérèse Waia last week. Image: NC la 1ère TV

By Patrick Decloitre, RNZ Pacific correspondent French Pacific desk

A women’s union in New Caledonia has staged a sit-in protest this week to support senior Kanak indigenous journalist Thérèse Waia, who works for public broadcaster Nouvelle-Calédonie la Première, after a smear attack by critics.

The peaceful demonstration was held on Nouméa’s Place des Cocotiers to protest against violent messages posted by critics against Waia on social networks — and also against public comments made by local politicians, mostly pro-France.

Political leaders and social networks have criticised Waia for her coverage of the pro-independence protests on April 13 in the capital.

“We are here to sound the alarm bell and to remind our leaders not to cross the line regarding freedom of expression and freedom to exercise the profession of journalism in New Caledonia,” president Sonia Togna New Caledonia’s Union of Francophone Women in Oceania (UFFO-NC).

“We’re going to go through very difficult months [about the political future of New Caledonia] and we hope this kind of incident will not happen again, whatever the political party,” she said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Paris-based World Press Freedom Index
Pacific Media Watch reports that yesterday was World Press Freedom Day worldwide and France rose three places to 21st in the Paris-based RSF’s 2024 World Press Freedom Index rankings made public yesterday.

This is higher than any other other country in the region except New Zealand (which dropped six places to 19th, but still two places higher than France).

New Zealand is closely followed in the Index by one of the world’s newer nations, Timor-Leste (20th) — among the top 10 last year — and Samoa (22nd).

Fiji was 44th, one place above Tonga, and Papua New Guinea had dropped 32 places to 91st. Other Pacific countries were not listed in the survey which is based on media freedom performance through 2023.

New Zealand is 20 places above Australia, which dropped 12 places and is ranked 39th.

Rivals in the Indo-Pacific geopolitical struggle for influence are the United States (dropped 15 places to 55th) and China (rose seven places to 172nd).

Pacific Media Watch

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