Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Fiji’s administration to reconsider
its process for holding public consultations on a controversial Media Decree,
and ensure all stakeholders are given the opportunity and adequate time to provide
input on the decree.
The IFJ is concerned that the
administration of coup leader Frank Bainimarama has said it would allow only one week for consultation on the decree before
implementing it at the end of March, while two leading news outlets have been
banned from participating in the process.
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary
for Information, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni, announced on March 13 that
the decree was to be made publicly available on March 15, and any public
submissions were due in his office by March 24.
He also reiterated that Fiji Times
Ltd and Fiji Television Ltd were banned from participating in the
However, the public consultation that
was expected to begin today has been postponed indefinitely as Fiji contends
with a cyclone. The decree does not appear to be available on the government’s
The IFJ is advised that public
consultation procedures in most democratic countries around the world would be
expected to last six to eight weeks.
“Fiji’s administration cannot be taken
as serious about public consultation on a significant policy initiative when it
has stated it plans to allow such little time for public review and the receipt
of submissions, and is actively excluding two leading media outlets from the
process,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
Leweni said in a statement that the
decree was intended to address “issues” in Fiji’s media industry and improve
professionalism and “responsible reporting”.
The IFJ’s concerns about the Media
Decree are framed by intensifying repressions against independent media and
freedom of expression in Fiji throughout 2008 and 2009, with authorities
conducting police raids on media offices, deporting publishers and editors, calling for media houses to be shut down,
and banning some foreign journalists.
All-out censorship was imposed in April
2009 under emergency regulations.
“The Bainimarama administration must do all it can to ensure independent
stakeholders are fully involved and consulted on the decree, whether or not the
administration agrees with or likes their input,” White said. “Without this
engagement, the decree will likely be regarded as a tool for controlling media
rather than promoting media professionalism.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide