Media workers across the Pacific have strongly condemned the violent bashing of veteran media advocate, journalist, and trainer Peter Lomas.Initial reports show that Lomas was punched, and repeatedly kicked by a fellow employee at the Solomon Star newspaper in Honiara, Solomon Islands more than a month ago. He sustained injuries from which he is still recovering, and has stated he is unable to comment on the matter.
"The Freedom Forum stance is clear. There is no room for violence in the workplace, home or anywhere, and we see this beating of Mr. Lomas as an affront to media freedom," says Forum Co-chair Monica Miller.
"Around the world journalists are being badgered, harassed, assaulted and even killed in the performance of their duties. It is a sad day for journalism in our peaceful Pacific when a journalist, one who has done so much to develop and raise the standards of news media in our region, sustains serious injuries at the hands of a colleague."
Through the Freedom Forum and its umbrella network, Pacific Islands Journalism Online, Lomas has received messages of support from media workers in the region expressing their shock and disbelief at the incident and apparent lack of prosecution.
Miller, a broadcast journalist based in American Samoa, is co-chair of the PFF, chaired by PNG media columnist Susuve Laumaea.
She says it is "disturbing and disappointing" that the Freedom Forum has only just found out about the matter this week.
"A lot of abuse may be going on under our noses that are not being reported. The problem with unreported abuse is that it can begin to appear normal. The current situation shows that we as media workers have to do a better job monitoring incidents that threaten the physical well being of journalists, anywhere."
She says the Freedom Forum is united in its respect for our Solomon Islands colleagues; and its stance on promoting the rule of law in our nations to deal with violence as the crime that it is.
She adds it is the hope of the Forum that the owners of the Solomon Star will see to it that the assailant is brought to justice and take steps to ensure Mr Lomas and others can freely practice journalism and provide training to media colleagues in the Solomon Islands.
Both Miller and the Solomon Islands Star publisher John Lamani are life members and former presidents of the regional media body, PINA.
Given the silence over the bashing by both the Star and PINA, who see it as an internally-resolved, 'in-house' matter, Miller says it's important that Pacific media not permit their respect for roles and institutions to get in the way of ethics and the rule of law.
"The main issue here is the beating of a media practitioner, and applying the same rules that we apply to the same scenario where the assailant is not a media employee," she says.
Press Release (Pacific Freedom Forum)