JAWS: journalists want more transparency and access to information

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Targeting ways to expand reporting of integrity and corruption issues to build on journalists’ responsibility to hold governments to account. That’s what a two-day training for journalists, held this week at the Tanoa Hotel, aimed to do.

The Corruption Awareness Training for Samoan Investigative Journalists programme is supported by the United Nations Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC), funded by the New Zealand Government, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa (JAWS).

“Samoa’s journalists and media organisations want more transparency and access to information so we can keep the public fully informed of activities at all levels of government, especially related to spending and revenue commitments,” said Lagi Keresoma, JAWS President. “We welcome the assistance from UNDP to continue ongoing training for local media and student journalists, particularly with a focus on strengthening investigative reporting and awareness of Samoa’s engagement with international and regional anti-corruption good practices such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), and the Teieniwa Vision, the Pacific regional anti-corruption roadmap.”

The training included a briefing from Acting Ombudsman, Faualo Pepe Seiuli, who updated journalists on the Ombudsman’s role as an independent officer of Parliament, and public recommendations included in the Ombudsman’s reports tabled in Parliament.

“With all 14 Pacific Island Countries, including Samoa, now State Parties to the UNCAC, as well as endorsing the Teieniwa Vision as a regional anti-corruption framework through the Pacific Islands Forum, there is a wealth of good practice anti-corruption commitments for the media to be bench-marking their national governments on,” said Taupa’ū Joseph Mulipola, Programme Analyst, UNDP Samoa. “UNDP continues to partner with the Government of Samoa and other stakeholders such as the media for the implementation of sustainable and effective anti-corruption measures.”

UNDP’s media training support builds on UNDP’s work since 2016 with the Government and other non–governmental actors, including the private sector, women and youth entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and Members of Parliament, to strengthen integrity, in line with UNCAC, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, and the Pacific roadmap on anti-corruption, the Teieniwa Vision, Pacific Unity against Corruption.  

“Challenging corruption needs a whole-of-society commitment, and Pacific media have a key role in identifying priorities, highlighting gaps and supporting evidence-based solutions. Local media can contribute to ensuring that UNCAC, the Sustainable Development Goals and Teieniwa Vision commitments are on track to the benefit of Pacific citizens and societies at large,” said Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska, Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji.