Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges French Polynesia’s parliament to ignore a call by the archipelago’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESC) for changes to a bill that is meant to improve protection for journalists and provide better guarantees for media freedom.
The bill contains a series of amendments to the labour code that would ensure journalistic independence and would protect journalists in the event of work contract termination. It would not only ensure that they are compensated when dismissed but would also guarantee their right not to go against their beliefs and their right to compensation if they leave of their own volition when the media outlet they work for is taken over.
However, the CESC has called for changes to the bill in an “opinion” issued last month. The CESC says these guarantees cannot be extended to journalists in French Polynesia because of the limited size of the territory’s media market and the small number media companies.
It is the second time in four years that the CESC has opposed a bill designed to protect the independence of journalists in French Polynesia.
“The provisions for journalists to refuse to comply with an order from an employer if it violates their professional ethics, or with a new editorial line in a media outlet that has a new owner, are guarantees that exist in all of the world’s democracies and should exist in French Polynesia as well,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union-Balkans desk.
“We therefore call on French Polynesia’s assembly to support media freedom and independence by approving these provisions when they vote on this bill.”
France is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in the RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.