The Pacific Freedom Forum condemns the continued harassment and detention of Fiji-based journalists, including those filing for or providing information to overseas news outlets.
Last night’s jail stop for Pacnews/AP journalist Pita Ligaiula will hopefully end today. Ligaiula was filing for Associated Press and based at the PacNews Secretariat in Suva, and his detention under the emergency decree regulations occurred alongside the reported harassment of other journalists filing for outlets including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio New Zealand.
Leading Fiji journalists have been ‘briefed’ by Ministry of Information officials to put a positive spin on their stories, or face the consequences.
"This bullying behaviour on the part of Fiji authorities will only serve to still further focus attention on that country's situation, because the story will still, eventually be told," Pacific Freedom Forum chair Susuve Laumaea says.
"The reported invitation to 'approved' journalists - whose prior reportage on Fiji will be vetted prior to issuing visas - to come and tell 'positive'stories is ridiculous," he says.
"Local and overseas journalists were, like Pita Ligaiula, trying to provide balanced and accurate reports about Fiji, and all the current Fiji authorities can do is harass and attempt to silence them."
"Locking up reporters such as Fiji TV's Edwin Nand, whose interview with deported ABC reporter, Sean Dorney, was seen worldwide, and now AP's Pita Ligaiula, who works from PacNews and whose reports were also published globally, only demonstrates that those responsible need help and training in what real journalism is all about," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller.
"The increased pressure on our media colleagues in Fiji has only added to the credibility and respect they have earned from regional and international colleagues; and renewed solidarity amongst Pacific journalists," she says.
"PacNews is produced by the Pacific Islands News Association, itself a long running regional media and journalism support and training organization, which owes no loyalty to anybody except to its members and affiliates, and to the principles of fair, accurate, and balanced journalism."
"The continuing attacks on the Fiji media by the local authorities have been and continue to be condemned globally, and every instance of harassment and intimidation of journalists is being reported. PFF continues to encourage a return to due process by the current regime, by taking their issues through the complaints channels of the Fiji Media Council."