#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Decree 'buries' media

Friday, December 18, 2009

Decree 'buries' media

The dictatorship regime clearly wants the media to be totally subservient to it.

Its Media Decree is perhaps the final nail to permanently bury media freedom and free speech in the coffin.

Wednesday’s press release from the regime’s Prime Minister's office is the work of Bainimarama’s most powerful ally, the interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The statement by the regime that it intends to consult with media organisations and other stakeholders is a smokescreen. The regime admits that a decree has been formulated but claims consultation is in the pipeline before the decree is finalized.

There has been no consultation whatsoever with the media before the promulgation of the Spectrum Decree that rendered all radio and television broadcast licenses temporary.

Similarly, there has been no consultation with any other affected individual or organization when other draconian decrees have been formulated, both before and after the abrogation of the Constitution in April.

Fiji Times & Fiji Television

The regime through its statement has made it clear that it does not want to talk to Fiji Times and Fiji Television claiming both organisations are “partisan, do not recognize the contemporary legal system of Fiji and the status of the Bainimarama government (regime).” The regime wants all organisations to submit themselves to these conditions.

Partisan

The regime’s claim that the Fiji Times and Fiji TV are being partisan is senseless. In fact all media outlets in Fiji have been forced to be partisan since the implementation of censorship from April.

The media cannot and are not allowed to report statements from pro-democracy activists, report on negative stories like declining economy and sugar industry or job losses, or do critical analysis of issues either through radio talkback shows, Close-Up (Fiji TV) or newspaper editorials.

All the media can and are allowed to report on are statements from the regime or stories that either are not newsworthy or take up significant space and time on news bulletins. The fact that the media has been forced to become partisan to the regime is forcing organisations to basically fill up their news pages or bulletins.

Contemporary Legal System

The regime’s demand for the media to recognize the contemporary legal system confirms its desire to ensure the judiciary is allowed to ride over the basic rights and freedoms of people, even if these basic rights and freedoms are part of United Nations Conventions like Universal Declaration of Human Rights which have been ratified by past Fiji governments.

Contemporary means the current legal system. It means recognizing and accepting the regime’s rule and authority forcibly enforced through decrees. It means agencies of the regime can violate Court Orders and decisions. Last year, Immigration Authorities defied two High Court orders to deport expatriate Fiji Sun and Fiji Times publishers – Russell Hunter and Evan Hannah.

A week ago, FICAC, the regime’s “anti-corruption” agency made sure former Airports Fiji Ltd CEO Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia was prevented from boarding his flight to New Zealand despite the Court allowing him to do. Tuisolia has been charged by FICAC for alleged corruption. FICAC prevented him from leaving the country claiming he would face new charges.

The regime’s Contemporary Legal System also means that individuals sacked by the regime cannot seek justice before the Courts due to the promulgation of the Administration of Justice Decree. Similarly, the Spectrum Decree prevents media organisations whose broadcast licenses are either temporarily or permanently re-allocated for going to the Court to seek compensation.

The demand to recognize the regime’s version of the judiciary also means that a person can hold two positions which require neutrality and independence. New Zealand citizen Christopher Pryde is the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary for Justice.

Military lawyer Ana Rokomokoti is the Chief Registrar and Chief Magistrate. She is also responsible for prosecution of lawyers under the Legal Practitioners Decree. There is no element of independence under the regime’s legal system.

Media Decree means censorship

The Media Decree, if and when formulated, will mean Censorship of the media.

Coupfourpointfive has been reliably informed that the Public Emergency Regulations was not supposed to be extended for another month from December 10 to January 10.

The sole objective of the PER is Censorship since 10th April. We have been informed that censors from the regime’s Information Ministry were dismayed because they were told that they would not be required to visit newsrooms every day as the Media Decree would be enforced from December.

But we have been told delays in the finalization of the Decree meant the regime had to extend PER by another month.

It will be interesting to establish which media organisations become subservient to the regime, follow its demands and participate in the illegitimate consultation process.

6 comments:

  1. Excuse me but when are you guys in the media going to realise that this is what happens in a dictatorship? Yes, toe the line or face the consequences. The Fiji media had a good two and a half years of no controls after Frank's 2006 coup. What did the Fiji Times and Fiji TV do? Well, instead of anticipating what might happen if they stepped out of line, they went for it. Bad move, not just for them but for us. I'm not blaming them altogether but it was their recklessness, plus Netani Rika's arrogance, that invoked the present censorship. As media consumers, I think we're entitled to point a finger of blame at them for the new laws that will enable the regime to keep us even further in the dark. Pardon me if I don't regard them as heroes but idiots. They can go on about "shooting the messenger" all they like. But I think their messages could have been delivered in a way that was a lot more clever, outsmarted the regime instead of enraging it, and didn't ultimately disadvantage the rest of us. Now we're going to have a form of permanent censorship. Netani Rika comes from a good Methodist family and ought to remember the lines from Sunday school. "As you sow, so shall you reap".

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  2. If you're facing corruption in charges in any country, it's normal for your passport to be surrendered and for you to be prevented from traveling abroad. So what's so unusual about what happened to Saki Tuisolia? He'll get his day in court and will either be cleared or convicted. In the meantime, there's nothing untoward about him being required to stay in Fiji. Whether or not the charges aren't that serious, as his supporters keep saying, isn't the point. As the head of a statutory authority on the public purse, he needed to set an example in his corporate behaviour and that is what this case is ultimately about. That said, Ratu Tuisolia deserves a fair trial and the public will take a very dim view of any witch hunt.

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  3. What is going on at Coup Four and a Half. Hardly any new postings, no new comments posted either, are you guys on holiday or what? Maybe you've sunk into a deep depression with the tourism boom, the reviving economy and the Aussies and the Kiwis showing signs of accepting the regime. It must be awful for you but don't despair. You need to keep up the struggle for democracy on behalf of all of us.

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  4. How apt Anonymouse 1 - YOU "shall sow what you reap", SUCKER!

    And whilst u're at it - define examples of the type of "clever" tactics re media coverage over Fiji's situation that u would employ.... the type that u know wud "outsmart" Fiji's military junta instead of "enraging" it (your own words in quotes there!)

    Tut..tut... would do u & your cronies @ the f.sun well to recall the words of caution of one of the world's greatest democrats Winston Churchill :

    'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it'll eat him last'

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  5. Oi anon at 2.21....

    If you're not clever enough to realise how you can sidestep the censors, you must be from the Fiji Times.

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  6. The Fiji Times probably think they are untouchable. They thought that being part of the Murdoch media will save them from the arm of the law and government. It's obvious they are using blogs and their foreign agents to undermine the new Fiji Frank and his military council are creating for Fiji.

    The Fiji Times will fail. They have become and elephant in the room they forgot everybody else in the world have moved on.

    Sorry guys at Fiji Times. You'll die a slow death. Mark my word.

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