The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) welcomes a decision by the Australian Society of Travel
Writers (ASTW) not to accept an offer to hold its annual general meeting in Fiji next year.
The IFJ and its affiliate, Australia’s Media Entertainment & Arts
Alliance, urged the society in September to rethink a proposal to conduct the
meeting in Fiji in view of the
military regime’s strict censorship and restrictions on people’s access to
The IFJ and the Alliance
alerted the society to the sharp deterioration in Fiji’s press freedom environment in
the preceding 18 months, especially since the regime imposed emergency regulations
in April 2009 and ordered journalists and media outlets to submit “sensitive”
news reports to officials. Full-time censors remain in newsrooms in Fiji.
ASTW’s decision has subsequently drawn criticism from Tourism Fiji, whose
regional director, Paresh Pant, wrote to the society and accused it of
letter says, “Why should Fiji,
where both its citizens and hundreds of thousands of international visitors
enjoy a very safe and peaceful environment, attract so much resentment from
elements of the membership of an organisation which clearly states and prides
itself in its position as an ‘apolitical’ organisation.”
The letter, also noted concerns about the IFJ’s request to the ASTW to
reconsider the meeting’s location.
“The Alliance and the IFJ understand
that the ASTW reached its decision with great difficulty, but appreciates the
society’s recognition of the concerns expressed by some of its members that Fiji is an unsuitable location in which to conduct a
meeting of professional journalists and writers while harsh restrictions on the
media remain in place,” Alliance Federal Secretary
and IFJ Asia-Pacific Steering
Committee member Christopher Warren said.
“The ASTW has done the right thing.”
Over 2008 and 2009, authorities in Fiji have
conducted police raids on media offices, deported publishers and editors, called
for media houses to be shut down, and banned some foreign journalists, before
imposing all-out censorship in April 2009.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide