Regional model status now in danger
Despite the liveliness of media groups such as Talamua Media and the Samoa Observer group, this Pacific archipelago is in the process of losing its status as a regional press freedom model. A law criminalising defamation was repealed in 2013, raising hopes that were dashed in December 2017, when parliament restored the law under pressure from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi so that he could attack journalists who dared to criticise members of his government. Since then, he has repeatedly tried to tell journalists how to do their job and what they can and cannot cover. In early 2018, he warned Samoan media outlets not to “play with fire” by being too critical in their reporting or else his government would censor their websites. In response to these repeated threats, the Samoa Alliance of Media Practitioners for Development (SAMPOD) urged the media to reaffirm the right of Samoans to pluralist, free and independent journalism as an essential condition for democracy. In a sign of further decline in the situation in 2020, the prime minister threatened to ban Facebook and personally brought a defamation suit against a blogger whose comments he did not like.
21 in 2020
18.25 in 2020