IFJ Alarmed by Another Police Search of the Fiji Times

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

said.

 

“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

unknown people.

 

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

Times.

 

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.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide