National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairperson Jonathan de Santos was elected to the executive committee of Asia-Pacific’s newest media organization at the ongoing 31st World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Muscat, Oman.
IFJ delegates from the region formed the Federation of Asia-Pacific Journalists (FAPaJ), the fourth regional formation of the world’s biggest organization of journalists.
IFJ Vice President and India Journalists Union (IJU) general secretary was elected president, Salem Al Jahwari was elected as vice president while Mousa Abdul Nour, Ali Yousef, Mohammad Alhammadi, Leigh Tonkin, Badri Sigdel and de Santos were elected as members of the executive committee.
“It is an honor for the NUJP to be part of the first executive council of FAPaJ, especially at a time when colleagues across the region are facing online harassment as well as repression and suppression in the guise of protecting the public against ‘fake news’,” de Santos told Kodao.
“We hope that the new federation will help nurture existing cooperation among unions in Southeast Asia and lead to further solidarity among unions and press organizations across Asia and the Pacific towards press freedom and better working conditions for journalists,” de Santos added.
The NUJP is IFJ’s member organization in the Philippines.
At its founding, FAPaJ committed to protect the right to free speech, to strengthen free expression online and fight against laws which lead to internet shutdowns in the region.
The new regional federation adopted several resolutions, including voting unanimously to condemn the increasing assaults on the press in countries in the region including Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Myanmar and Hong Kong.
It also called for increased monitoring of the arrests and trials of journalists and other press freedom violations.
The delegates also moved to condemn the killing of Palestinian journalist Shiren Abu Aqla killed while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin last month.
New IFJ president
Meanwhile, a Frenchwoman was elected as IFJ’s new president, succeeding Younes Mjahed from Morocco, the federation’s first woman president.
Dominique Pradalié from France, member of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), was elected IFJ president after six years of being a member of the executive committee.
In her acceptance speech, Pradalié pointed out that press freedom is under attack all over the world and journalists are the first victims.
“But it is the citizens who are the most penalised, because democracies are judged by the quality of their media and information, which must be honest, complete, independent and pluralist,” Pradalié said.
“Solidarity and collective action must be multiplied everywhere to promote and remember the mission and role of journalists in society,” she added.
IFI’s 31st World Congress is attended by over 250 participants representing journalists’ unions and associations from 92 countries whose key themes include the surveillance of journalists and action to end impunity for crimes against media workers.
Founded in 1926, the IFJ is the world’s largest organization of journalists with 600,000 media professionals from 187 trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)