The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has voiced its outrage after soldiers attacked a Fiji Times photographer, on assignment, outside a church in Suva.
According to online newspaper reports, photographer Sitiveni Moce was taking photos of what appeared to be a military arrest of an unidentified person at Centenary Church when the soldiers, in full combat gear, set upon him.
“This is an unwarranted and unprovoked attack and these strongarm tactics are simply unacceptable,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.
Witnesses reportedly saw the soldiers punch and kick Moce in the face before hauling him off in a truck and detaining him for one hour at the military camps in Nabua.
Moce reportedly was hospitalised after he was released from detention.
The IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, has called for a full investigation into this assault.
“Despite claims from the Fiji military leaders that journalist safety and press freedom will be respected under the new government, this incident is a worrying indication that these may be empty asssurances,” Warren said.
“The media must be free to get on with their work, unobstructed by blatant aggression and bullying from the military, and we call on the authorities to find those responsible for this attack,” Warren said.
Incidents of military censorship and harassment have escalated in Fiji over recent months since last year’s coup d’etat.
“The military must understand that attacks such as this do not go unnoticed and the IFJ will continue to closely monitor developments in Fiji,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries