#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Fijilive journalists released

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fijilive journalists released

The two Fijilive journalists arrested and taken into police custody on Saturday afternoon, have been released after 48 hours in custody.

Dionisia Turagabeci and Shelvin Chand were released before 2pm by Police Deputy Director of Operations, Irami Raibe.

Like the previous two cases involving the arrest of Fiji Television journalist Edwin Nand and Pita Ligaula of PACNEWS, Turagabeci and Chand were interviewed but not charged.

The latest lock-up shows the military rulers in Fiji are using strong-arm tactics to harass and intimidate journalists and the media in an effort to get them to be totally obedient to the new legal order.

Coupfourpointfive has now established that at about 9am on Saturday May the 9th, Fijilive posted a news story about the release of eight soldiers and one police officer jailed for more than four years by the High Court in Lautoka, for brutally killing Nadi teenager Sakiusa Rabaka.

The nine have been released early under Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO).

The article was written by Shelvin Cand and posted by the desk editor on duty on that day, Dionisia Turagabeci.

Sources have told us the news item also contained comments from Citizens Constitution Forum executive director, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, who expressed concern at their early exit from Natabua prison where they were serving their sentence.

Coupfourpointfive has also established the story was seen by a Department of Information Censor before being posted online.

However 10 minutes after it went on, Fijilive received a call from a young officer based at the Police Command Centre who directed the story be pulled immediately.

It is believed the officer is part of a team established to monitor online news produced by local media, overseas radio stations and television networks as well as international newspapers.

It is believed this monitoring is carried out 24/7.

While police are powerless to act against overseas based media and blogsites, the local media industry has to comply with the absolute censorship according to the Public Emergency Regulations.

Sources say Fijilive complied with the directive and duly removed the story.

Coupfourpointfive has been told the officer re-checked the Fijilive online service a few hours later and saw the story still posted.

According to sources, the officer had not refreshed the web page on the computer he was using and believing what he saw, informed his superiors.

Chand was arrested around 3pm on Saturday from the Fijilive office at Downtown Boulevard.

Turagabeci, after removing the story, had travelled to cover the opening of the Natadola Bay Resort at 3pm by military commander and interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama.

Her assignment was cut short when she was arrested by police at Natadola and escorted by them to Suva.

The journalists were locked up at Central Police Station and were denied visitors, including a lawyer, who was sent yesterday by a friend of the journalists.

Sources say Fijilive management were also clueless about how to deal with the situation and did not provide legal representation.

At about nine o'clock this morning, 42 hours after the detention, a relative managed to see one of the journalists for 10 minutes.

Later in the day, a Fijilive senior journalist was seen at the police station accompanying a relative.

The latest detention means four journalists have now spent time locked up in police cells since April 13, three days after the abrogation of the Constitution and promulgation of Emergency Regulations.

Last week, the Regulations were extended by another 30 days to expire on June the 10th, instead of May the 10th. In an interview with Australian journalist, Graham Davies, Bainimarama said the Regulations were effective in controlling the media and getting them to do what he terms “responsible reporting”.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to despotic dictatorship - Bauhaus.

Anonymous said...

Vinaka, Dionisia, na valataka na nomu vanua.

Although you are a woman, you are made of steel and can take it like it is, more than some men who live in Fiji these days.

I take my hat off to you, girl!

Dionisia Tabureguci said...

Isa, thank you for the kind comments and for highlighting the case of our arrest.

The details contained in this blog post on how it all happened are very accurate, accept for one small detail: the stories (we were ordered to pull three stories: one on Rabaka case and two based on an interview with the Australian High Commission in Fiji re: Fiji status in PACER talks) were not sent to the Information Ministry before they were posted online, as is now required by the government under Section 16 of the Public Emergency Decree. This section deals with the “Control of Broadcast and Publications,” so the determination of the “sensitivity” of editorial content at the moment is now the prerogative of the Ministry of Information and not Fiji’s media outlets.

As such, Shelvin and I were arrested for "Violation of the Public Emergency Decree."

Punishment for that is detainment by Police of arrested persons for a time period of between 24 hours and seven days.

If the media entity fails still to comply with the requirements of this section, it faces closure of operations by order of Police Commissioner via advice from Information Permanent Secretary.

For the sake of keeping our jobs during these hard times, and also keeping in mind other workers in our company, some of us have no choice but to comply with the rules of the day.

Anonymous said...

Isa vinaka Lewa for fiting for the truth. Dua na siga e na qai ratou lewai na lala nei Bainimagana