26 August 1999


Editor issues public plea after journalist injured covering union blockade

Incident details

Francis Orny, Isabelle Hennequin



(PINA/IFEX) - On 26 August 1999, Réseau France-Outremer (RFO) New Caledonia
editor-in-chief Francis Orny urged all business, trade union and political
leaders in the French Pacific territory to "keep their troops under control"
after an RFO cameraperson was injured during a confrontation between
unionists and members of the public. RFO-television cameraperson Philippe
Grenier was hit by a stone on his temple on 25 August as he was filming a
tense confrontation between union supporters and the general public at
union-erected roadblocks on the outskirts of the capital, Noumea.

In a special editorial comment on RFO-radio, Orny reacted to the incident,
which comes one week after another RFO-TV journalist, Isabelle Hennequin,
was close to being shot as she interviewed a union leader in Canala, north
of Noumea. The union leader, who was at the time giving an interview to
Hennequin, sustained a bullet wound in the upper thigh fired by a sniper at
roadblock on the village nickel mining site. Orny said: "Our daily mission
is to inform you (the public). We're trying to do this to our best
(ability); of course, we love our job and we're getting paid for doing it,
we're accepting the risks. But the degradation of the social climate in New
Caledonia is getting out of hand. We wouldn't like to see journalists, (in)
this instance from RFO, becoming victims of the situation. This act, and the
shooting the other day in Canala, are imbecile and inadmissible actions.
More generally, they are infringements of the freedom to inform and to
democracy at large.

"We take our responsibilities, but RFO journalists are now officially urging
all trade union, economic and political leaders to take theirs by keeping
their troops under control. Our only tools are a camera, a microphone and a
pen. Of course, we're easy targets. We believe that every attempt to
prevent, now and in future, journalists to do their job is a breach of this
fundamental right, the right we have to tell the truth, even if it sometimes
annoys some. This is and always will remain our sole aim." RFO New
Caledonia's management has filed a court action on the incident.


Pacific Islands News Association
Level 2, 46 Gordon Street, Damodar Centre
Private Mail Bag, Suva
Fiji Islands
pina (@) connect.com.fj
Phone: +679 3303623
Fax: +679 3317055
More from Asia & Pacific


  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region