21 Oct 2008

Samoa only daily newspaper boycotts coverage of guns probe inquiry

12:30 pm on 21 October 2008

Samoa's only daily newspaper, the Samoa Observer, has decided to stop covering a Commission of Inquiry into alleged gun smuggling because of media restrictions.

The inquiry is looking at the alleged involvement of Samoa's Police Commissioner and crew members of the police patrol boat MV Nafanua, as well as the Customs office.

The alleged smuggling of guns from American Samoa to Samoa took place last April.

The Samoa Observer's editor, Mata'afa Keni Ramese Lesa, says the restrictions set for the local and international media by the commission is a violation of the media's freedom to report freely the public inquiry.

The editor is also calling on the local Journalist Association of Samoa to do something about the allege breach of free press in Samoa by the commission.

However, some journalists covering the inquiry say some crucial information from witnesses, related to the smuggling of weapons aboard the MV Nafanua, are starting to appear in the daily releases prepared by the legal team and endorsed by the commission.