Yap legislature turns down call to expel American journalist

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The Yap State Legislature in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has reportedly rejected a call by a traditional council of chiefs to expel an American journalist from the island nation.

Joyce McClure, a veteran journalist in Yap was at the center of controversy following a move to have her expelled by members of the Council of Pilung, a group of traditional chiefs. The council sent a letter to the legislature where McClure was accused of journalistic malpractice.

The council said they have received information that McClure “has been or may be disruptive to the state environment and or to the safety and security of the state.”

McClure has covered various regional stories including an expose’ on the alleged unsanctioned business dealings of a traditional leader with a foreign fishing company.

McClure, who is a correspondent for the Pacific Island Times and other publications, responded by saying, a US Citizen is allowed, under the Compact of Free Association, to live and work visa-free in the FSM.

“They can only be thrown out of the country if they do something illegal. This holds true for FSM Citizens living/working in the US. Both constitutions provide the right of free speech in their countries,” McClure said.

Media practitioners all over the Pacific have also expressed their support for McClure. The Pacific Freedom Forum, a global network of media practitioners questioned the intent behind the letter. PFF Chair Bernadette Carreon of Palau said, “The document we have seen raises more questions over the agenda behind the signatures, and whoever reads it has to look deeper into the reasons prompting leaders to endorse a document which wants a journalist kicked out of Micronesia simply for doing her job.”

Meanwhile, Mar-Vic Cagurangan, Pacific Island Times publisher said the management team of the publication supports Ms McClure.

“We have confidence in her competence and integrity. We value her journalistic contributions. Her unrelenting efforts to cover government affairs and community events in Yap provide valuable information not just to the local community but the regional community, as well. We disagree with the council’s claim that Ms Joyce’s “journalistic activities “[have] been or may be disruptive to the state environment.” Her reporting provides transparency, which is vital to every democratic society,” Cagurangan said.