The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands an end to the
ongoing maltreatment of staff and editors of the Fiji Times after another intervention by police this week.
According to local media reports, three plain-clothes police produced a
warrant to search the offices of the Fiji
Times on April 3. They were looking for a document alleged to be in the
possession of reporter Reijeil Kikau and which reportedly contained a petition
signed by Ministry of Finance staff addressed to the Public Service Commission.
“The search warrant was a complete waste of time for the police and the
firm,” Fiji Times editor-in-chief
Netani Rika told the media.
The police also reportedly warned newspaper staff against printing the
contents of the petition.
The latest search follows a similar incident on March 10,
when police with a warrant searched the newspaper’s offices and questioned Rika, reportedly in connection to correspondence from international
organisations and political mediators regarding the political situation in Fiji.
“The frequency of attacks on staff and interruptions to the daily running
of the Fiji Times is well beyond
acceptable,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
“Further antagonism against the Fiji
Times and independent media outlets in Fiji
only deepens evidence of the steady demise of press freedom in Fiji
under the country’s interim military government.”
The IFJ has repeatedly called for Fiji’s leaders to put an immediate
stop to efforts to shut down the country’s independent media.
On March 25, the Land Force Commander of Fiji’s military forces, Colonel
Pita Driti, issued a media statement calling for the Fiji Times to be closed, saying it was “the most non-cooperative
and biased newspaper in the country”.
On March 23, a firebomb which failed to ignite was launched at Rika’s
homeby unknown assailants, less than two weeks after his car was smashed on March 10, also by
The past year has seen a campaign of anti-media actions by
the interim military government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama to intimidate
and undermine Fiji’s
independent media, particularly the Fiji
One publisher of the Times was deported last May and another
in January, and the newspaper has been convicted of contempt for publishing a
letter critical of a court ruling upholding the legality of Fiji’s 2006 military coup.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide