#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-12-13

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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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Media decree drafted

Fiji's interim government has confirmed they are in the process of drafting a media decree.

However, it has stressed that consultations will not be held with the Fiji Times and Fiji TV.

The PM's Office said before finalizing the media decree, consultations will be held with media organizations and other relevant stakeholders which recognize the contemporary legal system in Fiji, the Bainimarama government and who have an interest in moving Fiji forward for the benefit of all the citizens.

The Prime Minister's Office said Fiji Times and Fiji TV will not be consulted because according to the government the two media outlets have demonstrated through their perverse publication and broadcast that they do not recognize the contemporary Fijian legal system, the status of the Bainimarama government, are partisan and not Fiji focused.

Australian journalist barred from Fiji

Another Australian journalist has fallen foul of Fiji's illegal military government more than two years after he worked in the country.

Steve McCully, a former executive with The Fiji Times, was refused entry to the island state after arriving there as a tourist for his wedding and honeymoon.

Mr McCully, who now works for The Gold Coast Bulletin, flew into Nadi airport on Saturday afternoon only to be met by Fiji immigration officials who said he was prohibited from entering the nation, which has been under military rule since a coup in December 2006.

"I never got to see outside the airport," he said.

"They detained me at arrivals and then frog-marched me around to departures and checked me on to a flight back to Brisbane later that night.

"I was treated well, but at the same time I was given the impression that any argument would end with the police becoming involved.

"They certainly didn't care that I was there for a wedding and honeymoon."

Mr McCully said he had been allowed to use his mobile phone to contact his fiancee, a Fiji citizen, while he was held in the airport's departure lounge until the flight to Brisbane departed four hours later.

He was not allowed to talk to Fiji officials and was told he could not appeal against his exclusion.

Mr McCully was the editorial training and development manager at the News Ltd-owned Fiji Times from 2004 to 2007, when he had to leave after army strongman Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama stepped in to prevent his work permit being renewed.

Since Mr McCully left Fiji in December 2007, Commodore Bainimarama, who appointed himself Prime Minister, has deported two publishers from The Fiji Times, the publisher of the rival Fiji Sun, the Australian High Commissioner and two New Zealand High Commissioners.

"I left the country at the end of the work permit in September, but my company was still negotiating with the interim administration for its renewal so, after two weeks back in Australia, I returned to Fiji as a tourist while the talks continued," he said.

"I was not working and didn't even go into the office, but because I had the use of a company car and mobile phone, someone reported to the military that I was working.

"This totally false accusation was never queried or checked with me or The Fiji Times.

"The car and phone were given to me as a courtesy by the company so I could get around and keep in touch, in case there was a breakthrough in the negotiations and they needed me urgently.

"Now I am banned indefinitely -- for life -- all because of a baseless allegation that was never checked.

"The ban has been made under a ministerial decree, which means there is no avenue of appeal."

Mr McCully said he had never been told he was on the immigration watchlist and the list is not revealed to people who make inquiries about it.

"This is typical of what this dictatorship is doing to people," he said.

Mr McCully and his fiancee were to have been married at Nausori, just outside the nation's capital of Suva.

"My fiancee's family had planned a traditional Fijian ceremony and had spent a lot of money preparing for the wedding," he said.

"She was left with everything organised but no wedding to go to, simply because someone jumped to a wrong conclusion.

"It is sad, but to be honest I would now have to say to anyone considering going to Fiji to really consider their options.

"It is a lovely place and they are great people, but the government is not to be trusted and when something goes wrong, there is no process of appeal.

"You lose all your democratic rights under a military dictatorship" - Gold Coast News

Rika says Times been nothing but pro-Fiji

The Fiji Times has been nothing but pro-Fiji in its approach to editorial content.

This according to Fiji Times editor-in-chief Netani Rika this afternoon.

"Look at our publications over the last 12 months. We have supported campaigns which raised funds for cancer awareness and care as well as major awareness of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, climate change and helping reform ex-prisoners," he said.

"We implemented an award system to recognise people whose individual efforts contributed to a better Fiji. We have been nothing but pro-Fiji.

"It is regretable that the Fiji Times along with Fiji TV has been banned from dialogue on the proposed media decree thus missing the opportunity for consultations with as wide a variety of interested parties as possible.

"We remain very supportive of responsible journalism which we believe includes presenting all sides of any issue so that the people of Fiji can consider issues affecting them armed with as much information as possible.

"We will continue to remain fully focused and supportive of the people of Fiji, their achievements and their challenges." - Fiji Times