The editor in chief of the Fiji Times, Netani Rika, says he walked out of the PINA conference in Port Vila because an interim regime appointed information officer was present.
Rika refused to participate in a panel discussion involving an information officer from the regime’s Information Ministry during the PINA convention in Vanuatu on Monday.
The Information Officer he was referring to was former journalist, Talei Tora, an army officer, who has been seconded to the information ministry as one of its main censors.
The censors have been stationed in Fiji newsrooms monitoring news on a daily basis since the abrogation of the Constitution in April.
The Information Ministry is a member of PINA.
Before he left the meeting, Rika spoke of how journalists, including women, were detained by the regime for doing their job. He said the same authorities from the regime were represented in the panel and were accepted at the forum and given a voice as a member of PINA despite restricting the work of journalists in Fiji.
Rika noted that the regime’s representative - Tora - had been treated with decency, respect and dignity at PINA, a courtesty which the regime has failed to extend to journalists in Fiji.
He said he had to leave because he was not feeling comfortable in the presence of people “who will not treat us with courtesy at home (Fiji) but expect to be treated with respect off-shore (Port Vila)”.
Editor's Note: See right of blog for Rika’s comments at the PINA Forum