IFJ Calls for End to Anti-Media Campaign in Fiji


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Fiji’s interim military government to

put an immediate stop to efforts to shut down the country’s independent media, following

a call by a senior Army officer for the closure of the Fiji Times.



to local media reports, the Land Force Commander of Fiji’s Military Forces,

Colonel Pita Driti, issued a media statement on March 25 attacking the Fiji Times, saying it was “the most

non-cooperative and biased newspaper in the country”. He alleged that the media

did not give adequate coverage to military “grievances” or “positive achievements”.


The newspaper’s

editor, Netani Rika, said Driti’s comments were unfortunate. He said the Fiji Times sought to give fair coverage on

all issues and incidents involving the Army and interim administration, and he invited

Driti to be more specific about his complaints.  


The IFJ is extremely

concerned for the safety and integrity of Fiji’s media, and urges the interim

military government to instruct all officials and senior military personnel to refrain

from making or endorsing statements that demand censorship and serve to incite

anti-media sentiment.


Colonel Pita Driti’s public call for a newspaper to be shut

down because he apparently does not agree with its content demonstrates a gross

misunderstanding of the role of independent media in an open society,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“This kind of

comment by a high-ranking military officer appears intended to intimidate the

media community, and is irresponsible given recent physical attacks on media



“The IFJ urges Fiji’s interim military leaders to make a public

commitment to the protection of media personnel and freedom of expression in Fiji.”


Driti’s statement comes after more

than a year of systematic anti-media actions by the interim military government

of Commodore Frank

Bainimarama. In particular, there has been a campaign to intimidate and

undermine the Fiji Times, with the

deportation of one publisher last May and another in

January, the newspaper’s conviction on contempt charges

for publishing a letter critical of a court ruling upholding the legality of

Fiji’s 2006 military coup, and police searches of the paper’s offices and questioning of the

editor earlier this month.


It also follows a firebomb

attack by unknown assailants on Rika’s home on March 23, in which bottles

filled with kerosene and sugar failed to ignite, and the smashing of Rika’s car on March 10.


In his

statement, Driti also expressed dissatisfaction with the Fiji Media Council and

its advice to political parties and stakeholders on dealing with complaints

about the media.


The IFJ reiterates that complaints

against the media must be dealt with through an open dialogue and independent

regulatory mechanisms. Shutting down media, deporting publishers and seeking court

convictions only take Fiji

further along the path toward a closed society.


For further information

contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612

9333 0919



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