Explanation Demanded for Deportation of Second Newsman from Fiji

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about deteriorating conditions for press freedom in Fiji after authorities in the Pacific Islands state deported the publisher of The Fiji Times this morning. It is the second such deportation of a newspaper publisher in two months.

Despite Fiji’s High Court ordering that Evan Hannah be presented in a Suva court this afternoon so that immigration and police officials could justify their actions, Hannah was put on a Korean Airline flight to Seoul early this morning.

Hanna, who is Australian, was apparently sent to Seoul because the operators of a Australian-bound Air Pacific flight refused to take him, saying they recognised the court order prohibiting the deportation.

Immigration and police officials detained Hannah at his home early yesterday evening. They said they had an order to deport him on the grounds that he had breached his work permit. They refused a request from Hannah’s wife, Katarina Tuinamuana, to explain the order.

“It was clear to me that they would use force if we did not comply," Tuinamuana said, according to news reports.

In February, authorities deported Australian publisher Russell Hunter after his paper, the rival Fiji Sun, published reports highlighting allegations about a government minister.

Coup leader and prime minister Frank Bainimarama said in a press statement at that time that “media freedom is secure and guaranteed”. But he warned the media to recognise limitations to constitutional guarantees on freedom of the press.

“The IFJ urges Fiji’s authorities to make transparent the reasons for deporting Hannah and the reasons why a court order prohibiting the action was ignored,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

“This draconian action bodes ill for ordinary people in Fiji, who inevitably will suffer the denial of information supplied by an independent and critical media, and it diminishes Fiji’s standing in the international community.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries