Rapper ‘50 Cent’ has been fined for offensive language in St Kitts. The small Caribbean Island has laws prohibiting profanity. '50 Cent' was fined at the airport under the Small Charges Act which prohibits offensive language in public places.
20 June 2016
This week on 'Top Writers' (broadcast through Fresh FM) I shine the spotlight on the plight of Behrouz BOOCHANI, who has been incarcerated on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea for almost 3 years. Boochani is one writer out of the 1054 writers currently on PEN’s Case List. An Iranian national, in his native Iran, Boochani worked as a journalist for several newspapers. Since his detention on Manus Island Boochani has been documenting human rights violations, which he passes on to the Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP), who in turn pass the information on to the United Nations and its relevant agencies.
With the demise in freedom of speech in the Pacific, voices like Boochani, are a valuable link to what is going on in the region.
The podcast will be available Thursday 23rd June.
About 'Top Writers'
‘Top Writers’, is a radio show written and produced by Dana Wensley in conjunction with the Top of the South Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. It features a PEN section hosted by Dana Wensley. The show begins with freedom of speech issues, focusing the lens on one author each session. You can find out more about the show on http://www.topwriters.co.nz/radio-show.html
The growing problem of freedom of expression in the Pacific was highlighted again this week by the continuing ban by the Fijian government of Television New Zealand Pacific Affairs correspondent Barbara Dreaver.
Dreaver is on a ‘blacklist’ of journalists banned from Fiji. In 2008 Dreaver was taken into custody after arriving in Fiji, detained overnight, and refused access to assistance from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affair and Trade.
Following her detention she was deported back to New Zealand. For the past eight years she has been banned by the post-coup Fiji government, led by former military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama, from entering the country, except for a one hour special dispensation to transit through Nadi International Airport.
Dreaver is the TVNZ’s Pacific Correspondent. NZ Prime Minister, John Key, described Barbara Dreaver as a ‘significant voice’ of the Pacific.
Other journalists also banned from Fiji include former Fairfax reporter Michael Field and Australian journalist Sean Dorney.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has stated he will not be lifting the ban which he sees as necessary to prevent the "wilful propagation of false information."
The continued ban on Barbara Dreaver is part of an ongoing slip in freedom of expression worldwide. In September 2015, dozens of journalists were banned from entering the Ukraine by President Petro Poroshenko. In April this year Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk was banned from travelling to Finland to attend the UNESCO Press Freedom Day conference in May.
New Zealand currently ranks 5th in the world in the latest World Press Freedom Index. This is well ahead of Australia, which ranks 25th out of 180 countries. New Zealand should take its place as leader in the Pacific on the World Press Freedom Index, to make a clear stance in favour of Barbara Dreaver and the other journalists currently banned from Fiji. In the last year there has been a marked erosion worldwide in freedom of expression.
Freedom of Expression is a right guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 19 of which states, ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression’. PEN NZ notes that this right includes the freedom to ‘seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’
PEN is interested in freedom of speech issues in relation to both fiction and nonfiction. In Canada, under the Conservative government of Steven Harper, PEN Canada advocated strongly for publicly funded scientists who were ‘gagged’ and prevented from presenting their research findings in the public arena.
Is the same happening in New Zealand?
Shaun Hendy, author of Silencing Science argues that ‘scientists are often prevented from speaking out, either by commercial interests or concerns about their funding and criticism from their peers.’
Shaun Hendy is professor of physics at the University of Auckland and director of Te Punaha Matatini
PEN CASE LIST: UPDATED
Each year PEN International produces a case list of persecuted writers. From January 2015 to Dec 2015 there were 1054 writers brought to PEN’s attention. The Case List provides a breakdown of writers by country, and a further indication of field of work. Journalists, bloggers, and those involved in digital media are prominent this year in the chilling read of statistics. The full report is available here.
Early Release: Vietnam
PEN welcomes the early release of poet, essayist, and scholar Father Nguyen Van Ly. A Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly has been serving an 8 year prison term for ‘conducting propaganda against the state’. It is great to have good news to report. NZSA and PEN thank Writers in Prison Committee team coordinator Lesley Marshall, and her team of writers who support the PEN Rapid Action network in NZ. Find out more about the Rapid Action Network and how to join here.
PEN ISSUES: ‘TOP WRITERS’ RADIO SHOW
‘Top Writers’, a show which interviews authors from the Top of the South Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, features a PEN section hosted by Dana Wensley. The show begins with freedom of speech issues, focusing the lens on one author each session. This Saturday, the show examines the power of fiction and the Film and Literature Board of Review decision following the interim ban on Into the River. The show airs on Fresh FM. More
For the first time in New Zealand history the Films, Videos and Publications Act has been used to sentence someone for carrying or procuring graphic material that could promote acts of terrorism or torture.The material is said in the court documents to tend to "promote or support acts of torture or the infliction of extreme violence or cruelty". This is the first time in New Zealand the Films, Videos and Publications Act has been used to suppress propaganda related to acts of terrorism. Last year, the Act was used to consider whether the teen novel, Into the River, should be banned or restricted for its language and scenes of nudity or sexual encounter between school pupil and a teacher. For more information see the Herald article here.