The International Federation
of Journalists (IFJ) joins Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in expressing alarm that
an editor of a prominent Fiji
online news agency was held for questioning overnight after publishing a report
about the nation’s police commissioner.
The move was enacted under the Fiji military regime’s controversial
Media Industry Development Decree, which sets fines and possible jail terms for
journalists and media organisations deemed to breach the regime’s media codes, including
its Media Code of Ethics and Practice.
State-run Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported that fijilive.com news
editor Richard Naidu was taken in on July 30 by the Criminal Investigations
Department and questioned over a report published on the site the previous day,
which alleged Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni had been suspended.
Police said the allegation was incorrect, the report said.
Naidu was held overnight and questioned before he was released about
11am on July 31.
Regional press freedom group PFF
said in a statement that the detention of Naidu raised concerns about a
continuing campaign of intimidation and fear against Fiji’s journalists.
“The IFJ is deeply worried that Fiji’s
authorities were so quick to detain and hold overnight a journalist over a news report about which any complaints ought
to be dealt with by independent civil means,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“Detention as a first resort about a complaint over media content is a troubling indication of
the manner in which Fiji’s authorities intend to apply the media decree and
control media output.
“The IFJ urges Fiji’s power holders to reconsider resort
to this contested and restrictive law and instead engage with media and civil
society to develop an independent regulatory system that can deal with
complaints in a way that promotes rather than stifles ethical journalism and
Naidu’s detention was reportedly unrelated to the off-line status of fijilive.com
at the weekend, with the regime claiming not to be involved.
included in a list of media groups that had registered with authorities by July
31, as required under the decree. The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported on
August 2 that
fijilive.comsources said the broadcaster
registered one day late, and took the website down while its application was
processed. Fijilive.com was back online on August 2.
Reports said the list of registered
organisations includes Fiji TV, Communications Fiji Ltd, Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, ALSA Ltd as Mai
Life Magazine, Mai TV, Active Media, Sporting Pulse, Islands Business,
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Half Time publications, and Bula Namaste.
Fijilive.com meanwhile reported on
August 2 that Professor Satendra Nandan, dean of Humanities at the University of Fiji, would not take up the position as chairman
of the decree’s enforcement body, the Media Industry Development Authority, for
health reasons. He has been replaced by Professor Subramani, a well-known
Other members of the
regime-nominated authority include Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde; Asilika
Uluilakeba, representing the interests of children; Jimaima Schultz,
representing consumers; Peni Moore, representing women; and Matai Akaoula,
manager and training coordinator for the Pacific Islands News Association
(PINA), representing the media industry.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
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