27 April 2010

Australian journalists and media workers are invited to attend and report on global UNESCO World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), a three day conference featuring some of the world’s most courageous journalists to be held at The University of Queensland in Brisbane May 1-3.

Many of the world’s most fearless journalists, publishers, broadcasters, commentators and defenders of the freedom of expression and right to know will share their experiences and wisdom when it comes to informing their people in the face of government censorship, persecution and murder threats.

Programmed WPFD events will be held at The UQ Centre, Union Road, St Lucia. The program is available for download from: www.wpfd2010.org

WPFD will be formally opened at a visually exciting ceremony at The University of Queensland (UQ Centre. St Lucia) on Sunday, May 2. Attending the ceremony:

• Mrs Irina Bokova, DG of UNESCO.
• Ms Mónica González Mujica, Chilean journalist and winner of the 2010 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. Her amazing and chilling story is attached.
• Senator Joe Ludwig, federal cabinet secretary and Special Minister of State.
• Mr Cameron Dick, Queensland Attorney General.
• Her Excellency Dr Penelope Wensley AO, Governor of Queensland.

Conference highlights include
• A colourful conference opening ceremony, which will include The University of Queensland Centenary Oration for WPFD given by UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova. Title: Freedom of information: the right to know. Sunday 2 May, 9am-10.30am.
• Session “Journalists under pressure: Experiences from the frontline.” Sunday 2 May 2-3.30pm. This session brings together a group of extraordinary journalists from around the world who are continuing to report, publish and broadcast in the face of government censorship and persecution.
• The awarding of the World Press Freedom prize to the 2010 winner, Chilean journalist, Mónica González Mujica. Monday 3 May, 3-5.30pm.
• Adoption of the Brisbane Declaration. Monday 3 May 2-3pm.
• Attendance by Nigel Brennan, a photojournalist who was held captive and tortured in Somalia.
• Shirley Shackleton, widow of Channel 7’s Greg Shackleton, one of the five Australia journalists killed in East Timor in 1975, will introduce the film Balibo at the Schonell Theatre on 2nd May.

Newsworthy speakers:

• Mr Zuhair Al Jezairy: Editor-publisher of one of the first newspapers in Bagdad to start up post the coalition invasion of Iraq.
• Mr Chronox Manek survived a murder attempt for exposing corruption in PNG. He is PNG’s Chief Ombudsman.
• Mr Roby Alampay from the South East Asian Press Alliance is based in Bangkok and can provide updates on the anti-government protests and media freedom in Thailand.
• Professor Guy Berger, based in South Africa and was imprisoned for his journalism work during the apartheid regime. He can also provide updates on the media coverage of the forthcoming soccer world cup.
• Joe Thioloe, President of the Jury of the World Press Freedom prize and Press Ombudsman of South Africa. He too was gaoled during the apartheid days.
• Mr Ramzi Khoury of Jordan is the editor of a leading Middle East newspaper and expert on media freedom (or lack of) in that region.
• Mr Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (40,000 members including MEAA) based in Belgium and expert on the current state-of-play with regard to the persecution and censorship of journalists world-wide.
• Francis Herman: a journalist who was expelled from Fiji, which under the rule of the current non-democratic government, has clamped down on press freedom. He now works for the Vanuatu Broadcasting and TV Corporation.
• Ms Sophie Foster, Deputy Editor of the ‘Fiji Times’, which continues to be censored and harassed by the current government.
• Mr Dan Southerland, Executive Director, Radio Free Asia which broadcasts news and information into media controlled countries such as China.
• Nadezhda Azhgikhina, Secretary of the Union of Journalists of Russia. 300 journalists were murdered in Russia in 2009.
• Joergen Ejboel, Chairman of the Board of Jyliands POsten/Politiken Newspapers, a large publisher of newspapers in Denmark.

A practical function of WPFD is to facilitate the development of effective freedom of information laws in developing nations especially those in the South Pacific. Experts include:

• Professor John McMillan, Australia’s Information Commissioner.
• Mr Toby Mendel, executive director of the Canadian based human rights group, Centre for Law and Democracy. He contributed to FOI laws in Indonesia, Maldives and India.
• Mr Frank La Rue, who is the UN’s expert on FOI and media.
• Ms Julia Kinross, Queensland Information Commissioner
• Rick Snell, an Australian academic specialising in FOI in Africa and other developing regions.
• Ms Janet Maki, former Cook Islands Solicitor General and now the nation’s Ombudsman. The Cook Islands is the only South Pacific nation with FOI laws.
• Ms Katherine Le Roy who wrote the FOI legislation for Nauru.
• Gabriel Suri is Solomon Island’s Attorney General and is attending WPFD to inform the Solomon Island government about the introduction of FOI.
• Hila Asanuma is from the Government of Palau in Micronesia, which is also looking at introducing FOI.
• Edetaen Ojo heads an NGO based in Lagos and is an expert in media in West Africa

Other newsworthy speakers:

• Marie-Noelle Ferneux-Patterson, a lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner based in Vanuatu.
• Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO Assistant Director General. His area of expertise is media freedom issues and government control of a ‘free’ internet.
• Dr Ulla Carlsson who is Director of Nordic Information Centre for media and Communication Research. Her specialty is filtering and censorship of the internet with regard to children and youth.
• Jajan Jamaludin is a senior journalist with Tempo magazine, a leading and controversial magazine in Indonesia. He worked under the Suharto media clamp down and can comment on the current state of press freedom in Indonesia.
• Dr Stephen Quinn who teaches journalism at Deakin University and specialises in new technology, especially mobile phone communications and press freedom.
• Dr Alexandra Foderi-Schmid is Editor-in-Chief of the daily ‘Der Standard’ in Vienna and is an expert on new business models for Europe based journalism in the digital age.
• Virgilio Guteres is President of the Journalism Association of Timor.
• Te Anga Nathan is General Manager of News and Current Affairs for Maori TV in New Zealand.
• John Rodsted is a photojournalist who has documented the humanitarian impacts of landmines, cluster munitions and other unexploded ordinances in most war-zones over the past 30 years.
• P.V Satheesh, who is Director of the Deccan Development Society in India and is an expert on community broadcasting.
• Ashley Wickham, a former General Manager of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and can comment on working with the Australian government mission RAMSI.
• Rozlana Taukina, President of the Journalists in Danger fund and former President of the Association of Independent Electronic Mass Media in Central Asia, Kazakhstan.
• Atmakusumah Astraatmadia, an expert on press freedom and the Indonesian media.
• Premesh Chandran, CEO of an online information site that continues to successfully operate outside of the strict media regulations of the Malaysian government.
• Fernando Cano Busquets of Colombo; an expert on Colombian media and drug and corruption issues.


The work of world famous photojournalists Tim Page and Hamish Cairns, especially photos documenting the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan will be on display, and will include photos not previously seen.

Media: For further information contact:
• John Austin. School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland, phone 07 3346 8237. Mob: 0431806353
• Marsali Mackinnon. WPFD Project Manager. 07 3346 8262
• Jan King 07 33654 1120, Mobile 0413 601 248