The Fiji media has misunderstood the new criminal procedure decree, says former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem.
Shameem says the new decree specifically deals with cases that are being transferred to the High Court and not other cases.
"The provision in section 201 of the new Criminal Procedure Decree restricts the publication of written reports or broadcasts in relation to proceedings before they are transferred to the High Court, so they are referring to cases that are going to be tried in the High Court or are being transferred to the High Court. So, for instance, they would apply to murder cases or rape cases which can only be tried in the High Court."
Shameem says the decree is clear on what the media can report.
"The restrictions are set out in section 201 of the Criminal Procedure Decree and the restriction is that until the transfer to the High Court, the media may only publish, broadcast a report of the transfer proceedings, the identity of the court, magistrate, the name, age, occupation of the accused person, the summary of the charge, the name of the lawyers and whether or not the accused person is remanded in custody or on bail."
This she says is no different from the previous laws.
“So in fact as far as restrictions on the media reporting matters in court prior to transfer, the law hasn’t changed at all.” (Fiji Broadcasting Corporation/Pacific Media Watch)