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WEST PAPUA: ‘Not a big deal’ claim police, reject UN call for snake probe

Pacific Media Watch - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 5:57pm

JAYAPURA (Asia Pacific Report/CNN Indonesia/Pacific Media Watch): Papua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

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Categories: PMC network

‘Not a big deal’ claim police, rejecting UN call for Papua snake investigation

Asia Pacific Report - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 5:28pm

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Papua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

“The problem’s already been resolved, so there’s no need to make a big deal out of it anymore,” Diaz told CNN Indonesia.

READ MORE: Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to Indonesia to end torture

Diaz said the investigation conducted by the Papua Regional Police Professionalism and Security Affairs Division (Propam) into the case had already been completed.

“Propam has already dealt with the case, so it’s resolved,” he said.

Nevertheless, Diaz did not explain the results of the investigation or what sanctions would be given to the officers involved.

Speaking to journalists earlier, however, Diaz said there were several sanctions that could be applied including a written reprehend, a maximum one-year postponement of education, a postponement in regular wage increases, a postponement of one promotional period or a transfer and demotion.

Heaviest sanction
In addition to this, the heaviest sanction that can be given to officers who violate discipline is to be released from their posts or be assigned to a specific location for a maximum of 21 days.

Several UN human rights experts have urged Indonesia to investigate allegations of violence by the police and military in Papua related to the use of the snake during an interrogation.

“We urge the Indonesian government to take firm measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua,” read a statement by the UN experts.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” they said in the statement.

The experts, who are made up of UN special rapporteurs, also said that Papuans had been treated in “cruel, inhuman and degrading” ways.

Jayawijaya District Police Chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Tonny Ananda Swadaya claimed that it was the police officers’ own initiative to conduct the interrogation into the theft using a python.

According to Swadaya, however, it was just trick used during the interrogation so that the perpetrator would confess to their crimes. He also asserted that the snake used to frighten the suspect was a pet snake that was not poisonous and tame.

“This ended up going viral on social media, it’s been blown out of proportion in other parts of the country. Here [in Papua] the public is supportive. A tame snake, non-poisonous, it didn’t bite [the suspect] and after being given the snake, the thief admitted to the crime,” said Swadaya .

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Polda Papua Tolak Usul Ahli PBB soal Interogasi Pakai Ular”.

Categories: PMC network

Australia and Indonesia agree to step up military cooperation

Asia Pacific Report - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 9:00am

By Gita Irawan in Jakarta

Indonesia’s Army Chief of Staff (Kasad) General Andika Perkasa and Australian Defence Force chief General Angus John Campbell have agreed to further increase military cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting between Perkasa and Campbell was held in the framework of a “courtesy call” between the military leaders of the two countries.

This was conveyed by army information office chief (Kadispenad) Brigadier-General Candra Wijaya in a written press release received by Tribune News this week.

“During the meeting, the Kasad said that the TNI AD’s (army’s) role in safeguarding and defending the unity of the land territory of the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is not easy, so in several of its activities the TNI AD always endeavors to improve professionalism and the quality of its soldiers,” General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya said that this effort include improving education and training programmes and closer cooperation with the armies of friendly countries.

General Wijaya also took the opportunity to say that Perkasa is very aware that the cooperation and the bilateral relationship between the armies of the two countries have been good.

According to General Wijaya, this cooperation is one of the biggest that the TNI AD enjoys with the armies of other countries.

Several proposals
“Because of this, the essence of the discussions at this meeting is that the two sides agree to increase military cooperation between the two countries, particularly their armies,” General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya also said that during the meeting Perkasa made several proposals to General Campbell related to military cooperation.

“This included joint training activities, the exchange of lecturers and instructors, as well as improving the education organised by the TNI AD as well as the Australian Defense Force”, General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya said that that General Campbell welcomed the suggestions made by Perkasa because the Australian Defence Force also hopes that cooperation between the two armies will continue to improve in the future.

Also present at the meeting was Kasad’s Head of Expert Staff Major-General Felix Hutabarat, Deputy Security Advisor Brigadier-General Djaka Budhi Utama, Deputy Assistant of Operations Brigadier-General Untung Budiharto and Indonesia’s Defence Attache in Canberra, Admiral R Teguh Isgunanto.

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Bersenjata Australia Sepakat Tingkatkan Kerjasama Militer”.

Categories: PMC network

Poland: RSF decries criminal libel proceedings against Polish daily

Reporters Sans Frontières - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 1:45am
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by Polish ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s request for the highly respected Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza to be prosecuted for criminal libel because it has been raising questions about his involvement in plans to build a luxury skyscraper in Warsaw. Kaczynski has asked prosecutors to initiate proceedings against the newspaper under article 212 of Poland’s penal code, under which journalists can be imprisoned for defamation. The use of this article is clearly designed to silence media criticism, RSF said.

Gazeta Wyborcza has been publishing reports for the past several weeks about Kaczynski’s alleged involvement in facilitating the high-rise project, about which the newspaper has raised man

Categories: Middle channel

Call for justice and accountability of state authorities on the anniversary of the murder of Ján Kuciak

Reporters Sans Frontières - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 1:11am
On behalf of the undersigned media freedom organisations, representing thousands of journalists and human rights activists across Europe, we urge the Slovak authorities to immediately start examining state responsibility in the failure to prevent the assassination of Ján Kuciak.

Categories: Middle channel

Bougainville landowners call on Momis for protection from ‘offensive’ draft law

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 11:30pm

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Landowners throughout Bougainville were today calling on President John Momis for protection from a “callous opportunist.”

The landowners said that the customary laws of Bougainville and the basic human rights of landowners cannot be ignored.

A secret presentation, by an Australian, Jeff McGlinn, which was marked “strictly confidential, not for distribution” has just become public.

It evidences the unconscionable demand to strip landowners of all their rights under the Bougainville Mining Act.

McGlinn’s demand for these wholesale and draconian changes, is so that he can secure a complete monopoly over all large scale mines on Bougainville, including Panguna, without following the due processes of law, including the mandated Free Prior and Informed Consent of Landowners.

Panguna landowner Philip Miriori, chair of the Osikaiyang Landowners Association, said: “The McGlinn draft Bills, which would strip landowners of all their rights, were actually drafted by McGlinn’s lawyers. It is completely unacceptable.

“We cannot allow foreigners to draft our laws, tearing up our entire Bougainville Mining Act, and all its safeguards, just so that he and his small group of insiders, including ex PNG Defence personnel can profit personally from our lands and our struggle.”

Lawrence Daveona said: “The landowners of Bougainville call on President Momis to protect them, by immediately withdrawing these deeply offensive McGlinn drafted Bills.

Bougainville conflict
“There has been no prior opportunity for consultation. Anyone who has bothered to even read a little of the history of Bougainville, would understand that the Bougainville conflict was a plea for better mining practices and the recognition of the rights of customary landowners.”

Miriori said it would be difficult to think of something more deeply disrespectful and insensitive to landowners and the community generally than the demands of McGlinn.

“This comes at the very time the community is focused on continuing to build peace and reconciliation in the lead up to the referendum on independence.

“Unreasonable, unconscionable and unconstitutional. If passed they will be challenged and Panguna is delayed indefinitely. Nobody wins – in fact we all lose.

“The general feeling about the amendment, from the 500 people who attended, was that no one agreed with it and those present were asking the ABG members to do away with the amendment immediately.”

Categories: PMC network

Azerbaijani opposition website editor gets suspended jail sentence

Reporters Sans Frontières - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 10:13pm

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the absurd suspended sentence of five and a half years in prison that Azerbaija

Categories: Middle channel

West Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to halt Indonesian torture

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 11:02am

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Free West Papua Campaign has welcomed the call by the United Nation’s human rights experts for “Prompt and impartial investigations … into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military”.

Benny Wenda, chair of the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP), said: “The West Papuan people are crying out for their freedom and self-determination.

“In January, we handed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a petition of 1.8 million signatures – 70 percent of the Indigenous West Papuan population – for an internationally supervised vote, a referendum, on independence from Indonesia. Finally, the Indonesian State’s brutal repression and genocidal killing is being recognised by the United Nations.”

READ MORE: UN human rights experts condemn human rights abuse and racism in West Papua

The statement from UN experts was sparked by the torture of a political prisoner with a snake.

The UN recognised that this incident is “symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police”.

The ongoing genocide in West Papua by Indonesia is estimated to have killed 500,000 West Papuans since 1969.

The UN statement continued:

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people.

Categories: PMC network

Fruit fly in Auckland – situation update 22 February 2019

Pacific Scoop - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 3:35am

Press Release – Ministry For Primary Industries

A second Facialis fruit fly has been found in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of tara, just 70 metres from the first detection earlier in the week.Facialis fruit fly update

A second Facialis fruit fly has been found in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Ōtara, just 70 metres from the first detection earlier in the week.

The detection of a solitary male fly within the controlled Zone A gives us confidence our trapping programme is working, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson, Dr Catherine Duthie.

“We remain of the view that it is highly unlikely that a breeding population of Facialis fruit fly would establish in New Zealand because of our climate. Facialis has never established anywhere in the world outside of Tonga.

“However, our enhanced surveillance programme in the area will continue as a precautionary measure.”

Background and current situation

Two separate single male Queensland fruit flies have been found in surveillance traps in the Auckland North Shore suburbs of Devonport (February 14) and Northcote (February 20). At the moment, these are 2 single males found quite some distance apart, and there’s no evidence of a breeding population.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected before in the upper North Island in the past decade. Biosecurity New Zealand’s staff are well practised in dealing with this situation. Since the fruit fly was found, we’ve been working to locate any other possible fruit flies.

Two separate single male Facialis fruit flies have been found in surveillance traps in Ōtara (February 18 and 20), both within the current control Zone A.

To manage the fruit fly that has been found, a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) has been issued for all three suburbs. This restricts the movement of certain fruit and vegetables out of the Controlled Area to help prevent the spread of any fruit flies if any are present.

Find out about the Controlled Area and movement controls. You can download the CANs for Devonport, Northcote and Ōtara from the MPI website:

If there are no further detections, the operations in each area are expected to end 14 days after the last detection.

The fruit fly response at a glance:

Facialis fruit fly – Ōtara

• A second single male Facialis fruit fly was found on February 21, 70 metres from the first detection.

• Field crews have set up a field headquarters and are placing traps.

• 104 fruit fly traps have so far been deployed in Zone A and 125 in Zone B. additional traps will continue to be deployed into the zones over the next few days.

• Bin distribution is underway across Zones A and B. The bins are provided so local people can safely dispose of fruit and vegetable waste.

• Leaflets have been translated into a number of languages including Samoan, Tongan, Chinese, Cook Island Maori, Fijian and Hindi and are now being shared amongst the local community.

• Biosecurity New Zealand representatives will be attending a meeting with local community and church leaders tonight to update them on the situation.

• Tomorrow, field teams will be at the Ōtara market talking to residents. It is important to note, the market is outside the controlled area so people can continue to buy fruit and vegetables from the market as usual.

• While residents are enjoying the Ōtara Markets tomorrow, they will see an increased biosecurity presence around. Our friendly Biosecurity New Zealand staff will be there to provide information to local residents and hand out leaflets. It is important to note the Ōtara Markets are outside of the Facialis fruit fly control zones so residents don’t need to worry about purchasing fruit and vegetables there.

Queensland Fruit Fly – Northcote

• No new Queensland fruit flies have been found to date.

• 64 additional traps have now been deployed in Zone A and 39 traps have been deployed in Zone B. Almost 100 additional traps will be deployed into the zones within the next two days.

• Fruit fly traps in Zone A are being inspected daily, and those in Zone B are being inspected every three days. If fruit flies are present, these traps will catch them.

• Traps are placed in home gardens where fruit fly host plants (for example fruit trees) are found.

• Staff are visiting homes in Zone A, checking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens and compost facilities that could provide suitable habitat for fruit flies. Fruit and vegetable samples will be taken from home gardens to check for fruit fly contamination.

• Field workers are out in force talking to local residents, providing information about the controls and how they can support the response.

Queensland Fruit Fly – Devonport

• No new Queensland fruit flies have been found to date.

• Fruit fly traps in Zone A are being inspected daily, and those in Zone B are being inspected every three days. 92 additional traps have now been deployed in Zone A and 80 traps have been deployed in Zone B. All traps are now in place in Devonport, no further traps will be laid, but that will be reviewed if further QFF are detected.

• Bin distribution is now complete with 144 bins between Zones A and B. Collected fruit is being taken to Biosecurity New Zealand’s field laboratory.

What you can do

If you find larvae inside fruit, or believe you have seen a fruit fly, keep hold of it and call 0800 80 99 66.

If you live around Devonport, Ōtara, or Northcote: find out if you’re in the Controlled Area. If so, you will need to follow legal restrictions around movement of fruit and vegetables. Remember – if in doubt, don’t take it out.

Find out more about the Queensland fruit fly and see photos

Find out about the Facialis fruit fly found in Ōtara

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Joint Statement by Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison

Pacific Scoop - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 2:27am

Press Release – New Zealand Government

1. Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Auckland on 22 February 2019 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders Meeting. Prime Minister Ardern and Mr Clarke Gayford warmly welcomed Prime Minister …Joint Statement by Prime Ministers the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Auckland, 22 February 2019

1. Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Auckland on 22 February 2019 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting. Prime Minister Ardern and Mr Clarke Gayford warmly welcomed Prime Minister Morrison and Mrs Jenny Morrison to New Zealand.

2. The trans-Tasman relationship is unique and precious. It is underpinned by two centuries of shared history, values, open borders, free trade, and joint endeavour. It is a relationship of family, of whānau.

Trans-Tasman Cooperation

3. The Prime Ministers welcomed the role that Closer Economic Relations (CER) and the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda play in growing both economies, driving prosperity and creating jobs. The trans-Tasman trade and economic relationship sets the benchmark for economic integration. The Leaders committed to making sure the SEM agenda continues to meet the day-to-day needs of trans-Tasman business and remains ambitious and responsive to new opportunities and challenges such as the future of work, the growth of the digital economy, data and emerging technologies.

4. The Prime Ministers welcomed the Australia and New Zealand Productivity Commissions’ joint report on “Growing the trans-Tasman digital economy and maximising opportunities for SMEs”. They directed officials to consider the Report’s findings and proposed actions, including on improved digital delivery of government services; digital financial services and open banking; possible areas for the expansion of trans-Tasman data sharing; and the alignment, standardisation and streamlining of the collection and use of data, including from importers and exporters.

5. The Leaders welcomed the Report’s focus on addressing domestic barriers to digital trade. They committed to strengthening trans-Tasman cooperation on e-procurement (including electronic invoicing), payment practices, digital identity for citizens and businesses, and company director identification. Leaders took particular note of the Report’s finding that the mutual recognition of verified digital identities is a foundation for growing the digital economy, and directed officials to seek opportunities to align our processes to drive growth in the digital economy by increasing citizen and business confidence in the digital marketplace. They agreed to promote global digital trade rules.

6. The Prime Ministers welcomed the significant progress on e-invoicing since 2018. They announced the creation of the Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board (ANZEIB) to help drive an estimated A$30 billion in savings over 10 years in Australia and New Zealand. They also announced the two countries’ intention to jointly adopt the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) interoperability framework for trans-Tasman e-invoicing.

7. The Prime Ministers directed officials to maximise the opportunities and manage the risks of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, block chain and quantum computing.

8. The Prime Ministers met the co-Chairs of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) and other business leaders to consider further improvements to the trans-Tasman small business operating environment, including a trans-Tasman mediation mechanism for SMEs. They welcomed the ANZLF’s championing of the economic partnership and direct business input into the SEM agenda. Business leaders welcomed the Prime Ministers’ announcements on data settings, digital identities and the future of work, and committed to collaborate with government on streamlining payment practices to improve SME cash flow and viability, and on implementing e-invoicing.

9. The Prime Ministers recognised further efforts are needed to ensure policies and regulations are inclusive, and in this context welcomed the ANZLF’s launch of the Indigenous Women’s Business Network and announced Viet Nam and Malaysia as the preferred destinations for a joint indigenous/Māori business mission in 2019. Leaders also announced an inaugural Women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bilateral dialogue.

10. The Prime Ministers reiterated their commitment to a more streamlined and secure trans-Tasman travel experience, noting that both countries have now removed departure cards, and remained focused on more efficient passenger clearance processes through the better use of more timely data, and of digital and x-ray technology, including digital options for arrival cards and passports. Leaders also welcomed joint efforts to improve trans-Tasman movement of goods, through joint trialing of a secure trade lane for low risk cargo, and improving processes for border clearance of online purchases sent by mail.

11. The Prime Ministers recognised that this year trans-Tasman collaboration will expand into marine biosecurity through a unified approach and commitment to consistency in ballast water and biofouling management requirements. New cooperation activities will include building marine biosecurity capacity in the Pacific.

12. The Prime Ministers welcomed the five-yearly review of the Australia New Zealand Government Procurement Agreement and looked forward to practical outcomes that maximise opportunities for Australian and New Zealand suppliers and reduce costs of doing business for both government and industry.

13. The Prime Ministers welcomed the announcement that the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission will work closely with its Australian counterparts to progress the integration of the two countries’ infrastructure markets. Leaders also welcomed the trans-Tasman “Cities Symposium” in Sydney on 25-26 February and looked forward to its outcomes on tackling urban development challenges.

14. The Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of collaborative activities under the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement, including the launch of a trans-Tasman cyber security research programme; completion of the groundbreaking Satellite-based Augmentation System (SBAS) trial; and investigations into the feasibility of developing a shared trans-Tasman SBAS service.

15. Prime Minister Ardern welcomed Australia’s 2018 budget initiative to reunite people with their lost retirement savings and Prime Minister Morrison’s support for this initiative to be extended to New Zealanders who have worked in Australia.

16. Leaders welcomed New Zealand’s application to become an international member of the Australia’s Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM) as a way to strengthen collaboration on arts, culture and heritage. New Zealand and Australia will collaborate on the repatriation of ancestral remains, and a joint 18 month project on cultural indicators.

17. The Prime Ministers celebrated the depth of the trans-Tasman defence alliance and its roots in ANZAC mateship. Leaders welcomed the forthcoming annual Defence Ministers’ Meeting on 28 February, and consideration of our respective capability requirements, investment plans and opportunities for collaboration. They highlighted the valuable work of the joint Australia-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq, our respective deployments in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and support for our Pacific partners.

18. The Prime Ministers agreed that the prosperity and security of the Pacific was of fundamental importance to Australia and New Zealand. The Leaders welcomed the strong alignment between New Zealand’s Pacific Reset and Australia’s Pacific Step-Up, and agreed to strengthen their partnerships with Pacific island countries and territories, the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional institutions in support of the Blue Pacific.

19. The Prime Ministers welcomed the Boe Declaration, including its recognition that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. The Prime Ministers commended the target set by Pacific signatories for the entry into force by 2019 of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) and invited Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the French Territories to support PACER Plus. The Prime Ministers committed to increasing labour mobility opportunities, and looked forward to New Zealand’s hosting of the 2019 Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting.

20. Leaders recognised the trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement as a key pillar of the Australia-New Zealand relationship, and committed to working closely on ongoing implementation of the unique pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders who are long-term residents of Australia. They acknowledged the importance of the sensitive management of visa cancellation decisions, appeals and removals of New Zealand citizens who have been convicted of crimes in Australia, and committed to continue working together.

Regional and Global Trade, Security and Environment

21. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their steadfast support for an open, rules-based global trading system and agreed that Australian and New Zealand citizens benefit from a global trading system that creates jobs, delivers opportunities, and lowers costs for consumers.

22. Leaders reaffirmed the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the pre-eminent global body for the development and oversight of multilateral trade rules, and the settlement of disputes, and committed to working together to ensure the WTO is modernised and strengthened, including to resolve the Appellate Body impasse and conclude meaningful disciplines on fisheries subsidies in 2019.

23. The Prime Ministers welcomed Papua New Guinea’s successful hosting of APEC 2018, the pre-eminent regional forum for promoting regional economic integration, open trade and investment, and sustainable and inclusive growth. They looked forward to New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 2021 as an opportunity to advance shared economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

24. The Prime Ministers agreed that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will provide significant benefits to its members both individually and collectively. The CPTPP is open to other economies that can meet its high standards. Leaders committed to concluding negotiations in 2019 for a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

25. The Prime Ministers affirmed their commitment to work together in support of a region that is open, prosperous, secure and inclusive, in which disputes are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law and without the threat or use of force or coercion, and where freedom of navigation and overflight are upheld.

26. Leaders welcomed continued close cooperation and alignment on the full range of global and regional security issues, including cyber security, countering violent extremism and the return of foreign terrorist fighters, and the deterrence and disruption of people smuggling networks. Leaders shared views on foreign interference, and agreed that New Zealand and Australia would continue to share information and work together closely to address this issue.

27. The Prime Ministers welcomed positive developments on the Korean Peninsula, including the upcoming summit meeting between the United States and the DPRK. They shared their concerns over the DPRK’s ongoing violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed on the importance of enforcing sanctions. Both Leaders remain committed to working with the international community to encourage the DPRK to take concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.

28. The Prime Ministers expressed concern with the continuing militarisation of the South China Sea and urged all claimants to take meaningful steps to ease tensions and build trust, including through dialogue. They acknowledged work towards a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and supported conclusion of an effective Code that is consistent with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and that does not prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of all states under international law.

29. The Prime Ministers recognised that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change marks a global commitment to taking climate action. They welcomed the rules and guidelines adopted in Katowice, which bring the Paris Agreement to life. Australia and New Zealand congratulated Fiji on completing its successful Presidency of COP23 and for introducing the Talanoa Dialogue to the international climate change process.

30. The Prime Ministers expressed their support for the protection of marine biodiversity in the Southern Ocean, including through the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area and the proposed East Antarctica Regional System of Marine Protected Areas. The Prime Ministers expressed their disappointment at the continuation of commercial whaling, and called on relevant governments to cease this practice.


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RSF, CPJ call on Nicaragua to release two journalists held on terrorism charges

Reporters Sans Frontières - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 1:30am
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the detention of two independent journalists in Nicaragua, and called on Nicaraguan authorities to immediately release them and drop all charges against them.

Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, journalists for the independent cable and digital channel 100% Noticias, have been held in pre-trial detention on

Categories: Middle channel

World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 12:07am

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

Categories: PMC network

Police make arrests over alleged methamphetamine importation

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 11:30pm

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Police in New Zealand and Fiji have disrupted a group of people allegedly involved in importing methamphetamine from the United States into New Zealand.“Police make arrests over alleged methamphetamine importations into New Zealand”

Police in New Zealand and Fiji have disrupted a group of people allegedly involved in importing methamphetamine from the United States into New Zealand.

Last week Police made a number of arrests in New Zealand and in Fiji as part of Operation Nova.

The investigation began in late December after New Zealand Customs staff detected 5 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden inside a cooking appliance.

Further enquiries by NZ Police have resulted in two further seizures of methamphetamine, also hidden inside cooking appliances, totalling 6 kilograms.

Overall, the combined 11kg seizure of methamphetamine has a street value of $5.5 million and has prevented $13 million of social harm.

“Following subsequent work by Police, a small syndicate was linked to the alleged imports,” says Detective Inspector Paul Newman, National Organised Crime Group.

Last week four men were arrested by Police in New Zealand.

A 50-year-old New Zealand national, a 33-year-old Chinese national, a 60-year-old Canadian national and a 19-year-old US national are currently facing a number of drug and money laundering charges.

They appeared in the Auckland District Court on 13 February.

Meanwhile, two National Organised Crime Group investigators have been in Fiji supporting the local authorities with their enquiries.

Fijian Police have executed a number of search warrants and detained people linked to the group.

At one address in Suva, their efforts resulted in a seizure of 39 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about $30 million in Fiji ($19.5m in New Zealand).

This had the potential to cause $46.14 million of social harm to our communities.

A Canadian national was subsequently arrested in connection with the find.

Police believe the man is connected to the group arrested in New Zealand.

“This investigation shows the strength of New Zealand working with its close partners in the Pacific region to combat transnational organised crime groups intent on supplying methamphetamine and cocaine into the New Zealand markets,” says Detective Inspector Newman.

“It is well understood that these illicit drugs are the cause of significant social harm to our communities.”

Detective Inspector Newman says the investigation has further strengthened the working relationship between Police in New Zealand and Fiji.

At this stage Police enquiries are still ongoing and we cannot rule out further charges being laid.

Due to the nature of ongoing operations and court proceedings, Police are unable to comment further.


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The Helicopter View From Space Yoga Studio

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 9:14pm

Article – Howard Davis

Written in Sanskrit at some point between the second century BCE and the fourth century CE, Patanjali’s classic definition of the purpose of yoga has been translated in a number of different ways, but they all boil down to essentially the same message …

The Helicopter View From Space Yoga Studio

”Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodha” – Patanjali, Yogasūtras.

Written in Sanskrit at some point between the second century BCE and the fourth century CE, Patanjali’s classic definition of the purpose of yoga has been translated in a number of different ways, but they all boil down to essentially the same message – the calming or quieting of “mental fluctuations.” Thus the ultimate goal of all yoga postures is to develop the ability to sit still with a straight spine, listen to the breath, and journey inward. The literal meaning of asana is not simply to assume a certain posture, but more accurately to develop the ability to find a comfortable seat.

Meditation is not what you think. It’s like driving along an eight-lane highway, constantly trying to avoid delays, accidents, and all the other traffic, and forgetting that we constitute just a small part of the general congestion around us. The problem is that gravity keeps us earthbound, our field of vision is constricted, and we are unable see past the first bend in the road. We have no idea what lies ahead, but tuning into a radio station or using Sat Nav in search of directions for the quickest route provides us with a higher elevation or ‘helicopter’ view – a better perspective that makes it possible to consult expert opinion about the optimum way to get back home. Sometimes it is not the most direct path, frequently it involves some convoluted contortions and detours along the way, and what often happens is that our bodies distract us with muscular tension, discomfort, and pain, preventing our minds from focussing on the simple act of breathing. We get stuck, feeling sad, angry, or frustrated, even though we are sitting in the driver’s seat and striving to remain in control of whatever direction our lives take us.

In an intermittently successful effort to overcome some these vicissitudes as a yoga practitioner for over forty years and an instructor for twenty, I can testify to the constant struggle to cope with the pressure and anxiety of dealing with the seemingly endless difficulties that living on this planet entails. There are many individual paths up the mountain in this particular time and place, and I have explored a wide variety of classes in cities from Rome to Hawaii, and Bangkok to Rishikesh, as well as teaching at dozens of different yoga studios, health clubs, and gyms. I received my first teacher training in Kundalini Yoga at Yoga West and took advanced courses with Erich Schiffmann at Exhale in Los Angeles, studied Conscious Communication with Yogi Bhajan in Espanola, New Mexico, and worked with Nancy Gerstein in Chicago. My personal practice is definitely a work in progress, with plenty of peaks, valleys, and plateaus still to be experienced along the way.

For the stark natural beauty of its location, however, few can compare to Space Studio, which is nestled at the top of Mt Victoria high above Wellington. It has been specifically designed to provide a breathtaking vista of a spectacular landscape where the sky collides with the sea around the Miramar peninsula in the foreground and the Rimutaka mountain range provides a distant backdrop beyond. The ever-changing views promote a sense of floating in a serene world high above the harbour below. They provide an inspiring inducement to neutralize the waves of feeling that constantly lap at the edges of our consciousness.

With over thirty years experience behind her, Owner and Director Lana Bright originally trained at the Insight Yoga Institute and the Mindfulness Training Institute Australasia. She has recruited an international team of skillful and caring instructors from as far away as Germany, Mexico, the US and UK. As an ensemble, they offer a gentle programme of finely balanced yin-yang classes that transcends the tedious repetition of endless sun salutations sadly commonplace in most vinyasa flow classes. Their collective approach to teaching orientates students towards both dynamically mobile and satisfyingly till practices for both body and mind, encourages them to focus on developing their strengths while moving beyond barriers, and leaves everyone feeling simultaneously centered, strengthened, flexible, and alert.

All classes at Space Studio are specifically designed to meet our lives’ ever-changing flux of needs and demands – whether dynamic, restful, flowing, still, strengthening, or challenging. Students are encouraged to arrive early in order to sit and meditate or just stretch out and relax. There is no need to talk in this beautiful silent space, only a compelling incentive to become aware of the organic environment, from the constant stridulation of cicadas and gentle gusting of the trees during the summer months, to the winter winds and horizontal rain, and the continuously mutating formations of cumulonimbus. Even the intermittent yawn of airplane engines arriving and departing provides a metaphoric aspiration upward toward the lifting grace of flight, while paradoxically attempting to stay firmly grounded on the mat. Plenty of props are provided to support your individual practice and the instructors always offer a plethora of options, constantly inviting us to rest more and do less than they might suggest. The idea is to listen to your body and choose whatever position feels most appropriate at that specific moment. Sometimes simply lying down and resting – even for the whole class – might be the perfect practice for our over-stressed bodies and over-stimulated minds.

Whatever practice you may personally prefer, all yoga is designed to increase our self-awareness, recalibrate the endocrine system, and strengthen the nervous system – in short, to relax, reinvigorate, and renew. At Space Studio, a sense of greater mindfulness is also cultivated in order to encourage states of both wakeful presence and increased calm. During the daytime classes, the masculine yang energy is increased, while the evening classes tend to focus more on the feminine yin energy with a gentle, restorative practice that explores more passive postures and targets the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. This is an holistic process that involves concentrating the mind and healing the body through simple poses held for anywhere between five and ten minutes with the help of props such as blocks, bolsters, and straps.

The aim of all the instructors at Space Studio is to increase flexibility and encourage a feeling of deep release, while also explaining the basics of meditation by quieting down what Buddhists call the chattering ‘monkey mind’ – our constant tendency to jump back and forth between thoughts, memories, and emotions. It is not only ideal for athletic types who need to release tension in overworked joints, but also provides an excellent practice for those with limited mobility who simply want to relax. Space Studio is the perfect environment for cultivating this yin-yang balance, using the gentle susurration of the breath and the soft hum of the heart to rejuvenate all aspects of the body, mind, and spirit.

Ultimately, we may find ourselves in contact with something larger than ourselves and totally at ease in the driver’s seat, no matter what vehicle we are driving or whichever fuel we choose to put in the tank. This is the fundamental goal of yoga to which Patanjali was referring – literally, to ‘yoke’ our individual identities to a higher consciousness and merge with an expansive sense of infinite awareness. At Space Studio, achieving such an elevated perspective is never a struggle, simply a continuing process of gradually opening and deepening as we strive toward perfection in our daily practice. We may never arrive at such an ideal destination in this lifetime. Nonetheless, in the immortal words of Hamlet, it remains “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

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Bangladesh and International Mother Language Day

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:48pm

Press Release – United Nations

Concerned that one language goes extinct every two weeks, the United Nations is honouring linguistic diversity and celebrating indigenous languages on International Mother Language Day. And the roots of the Day start in a South-Asian country with a bloody …How Bangladesh spearheaded creation of International Mother Language Day
21 February 2019
Culture and Education
Concerned that one language goes extinct every two weeks, the United Nations is honouring linguistic diversity and celebrating indigenous languages on International Mother Language Day. And the roots of the Day start in a South-Asian country with a bloody and historic connection to 21 February.

“We have to protect our heritage, our culture, our existence,” said Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, of Bangladesh, the country which successfully lobbied the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 to create International Mother Language Day. The UN General Assembly formally recognized the Day in 2008.

The origins of the Day began before 21 February 1952, but erupted on that day, when students at the University of Dhaka and other activists protested a Government order declaring Urdu as the sole national language. Bangladesh at the time was part of Pakistan. The deadly protest provoked widespread unrest, resulting in 1956, in Bengali being granted official status.
“It is a part of our Bengali nationalism to promote and commemorate this Day for the protection of not only our language but all those struggles elsewhere around the world,” Mr. Momen told UN News.

He said International Mother Language Day also celebrates multilingualism worldwide, promoting more tolerance and a “sense of culture of peace and harmony where diversity does not mean harmful for the global citizen but diversity is also a powerful instrument.”

Watch the entire television interview with Mr. Momen on YouTube, or listen to our highlights on SoundCloud.

As part of the Day’s celebrations, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue 18 World Language stamps, each saying “hello” in English and in a dozen other languages.

A special event will be organized on 21 February in New York, organized by Bangladesh, Guatemala, Mozambique, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with the United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC), the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) and the New York Office of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


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Indonesia: UN experts condemn violence against Papuans

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:42pm

Press Release – UN Special Procedures – Human Rights

Indonesia: UN experts condemn racism and police violence against Papuans, and use of snake against arrested boyPrompt and impartial investigations must be carried out into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces, say a group of UN human rights experts*.

In the latest reported case, a video was circulated online of a handcuffed indigenous Papuan boy being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body. The boy, who was arrested on 6 February for allegedly having stolen a mobile phone, is heard screaming in fear while the laughing police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

“This case reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua,” the experts said.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police,” they added.

Representatives of the Indonesian police have publicly acknowledged the incident, and apologised for it. However, the UN experts say that prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account,” the experts said.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” the experts stressed.

The incident in which the boy was mistreated comes amid an ongoing military operation in Papua, which became part of Indonesia in 1969 and which has seen the growth of an increasingly vocal pro-independence movement in the past decades.

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Sol3 Mio announce South Island tour due to demand

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:23pm

Press Release – Great Things

When Sol3 Mio announced North Island only dates for their Back to Basics tour, two things happened. Tickets sold like hotcakes, and South Island fans made it clear that they wanted their own tour ASAP. Today Sol3 Mio confirm that theyll take …When Sol3 Mio announced North Island only dates for their Back to Basics tour, two things happened. Tickets sold like hotcakes, and South Island fans made it clear that they wanted their own tour ASAP. Today Sol3 Mio confirm that they’ll take the Back to Basics tour to five South Island centres in May. Tickets go on sale at 9am today at

“It’s been amazing to see the response to the Back to Basics tour,” said Sol3 Mio’s Pene Pati. “Five of our North Island dates have already sold out.”

“South Island fans have made it clear that we have to go down to see them, and we’ve found a week in May where we can fit in five concerts. I’ll be flying home straight after performing La Traviata in Hawaii just to make sure the South Island doesn’t miss out on seeing us this year!”

The Back to Basics tour features Sol3 Mio as they started out – three voices and a piano, singing songs from the operatic canon and popular music songbooks, and telling stories in the inimitable Sol3 Mio style. The South Island dates purposely bring New Zealand’s favourite musical trio into theatres, so they can interact with their audience like they did in the early days.

Don’t wait around on this one. Get your tickets while you can – official ticketing links available at


8 March, Baycourt, Tauranga – SOLD OUT
9 March, Black Barn, Hawkes Bay – Limited tickets available
14 March, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth – Limited tickets available
15 March, Regent Theatre, Palmerston North – Limited tickets available
16 March, Opera House, Whanganui – SOLD OUT
17 March, Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland – SOLD OUT
23 March, Turner Centre, Kerikeri – SOLD OUT
24 March, Forum North, Whangarei – SOLD OUT

26 May, ASB Theatre, Blenheim
28 May, James Hay Theatre, Christchurch
30 May, Opera House, Oamaru
31 May, Regent Theatre, Dunedin
2 June, Civic Theatre, Invercargill

Remaining tickets for the North Island concerts and the full South Island tour are available now via

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PNG probe into parliament rampage still ongoing, says police chief

Asia Pacific Report - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 12:28pm

By RNZ Pacific

Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner says investigations are ongoing into officers who took part in a rampage through Parliament last year.

Last November, dozens of police and corrections officers went on the rampage over their frustrations about unpaid security work at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  summit.

The Speaker of Parliament, Job Pomat, who subsequently offered officers bonuses for their work, has called for the investigation to be dropped in the spirit of forgiveness.

READ MORE: The Kramer Report allegations

But commissioner Gary Baki said the probe would continue and those responsible would be held to account.

“Why it’s taking a little bit too long, because most of the people that are involved are those that came from outer provinces,” he said.

Investigating team
“So our investigating team will have to get together and ensure that those that came in from outer provinces are clearly identified, so that their provincial police commanders in those regions can be informed accordingly that these are the people that will be required to be investigated by the investigating team.

“It’s not only in NCD (National Capital District).”

Meanwhile, the PNG opposition has questioned the integrity of the purported bill for the damage to parliament, which has been quoted at more than 8 million kina

Pacific Media Watch reports that Opposition member for Madang Bryan Kramer, who publishes the investigative Kramer Report, has made a series of allegations challenging the credibility of the damages claim and questioning whether Parliament has become a “Haus of corruption”.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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Two journalists arrested on arrival at Cairo airport

Reporters Sans Frontières - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:05am
Two journalists have been detained on landing at Cairo airport in the past few weeks. One, a US reporter, was denied entry and put on a flight back to Europe. The other, an Egyptian photojournalist, was imprisoned. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these latest examples of the Egyptian regime’s persecution of the media.

David Kirkpatrick, a New York Times reporter who was the newspaper’s Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015, spent seven hours being held incommunicado at the airport on 18 February be

Categories: Middle channel

Death threats against Swiss journalist

Reporters Sans Frontières - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 5:59am
The Swiss section of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned to learn of the death threats received by Arnaud Bédat, a Swiss journalist with the weekly L’Illustré, in connection with his reporting on Andriy Pavelko, the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU). RSF calls on the Swiss authorities to give him full protection.

Bédat’s articles focused on a 4 million euro loan that Pavelko received on behalf of the FFU from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), based in the Swiss town of Nyon.

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