#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Unified media stand on new 'parlimentary privilege' decree

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unified media stand on new 'parlimentary privilege' decree

Former journo tackles the Fiji Sun on new decree and regional freedom group urges Fiji media to steer clear of it

As a former journalist and mentor to some of the current practising journalists in Fiji, I cannot help but question the intention behind the new State Proceedings (Amendment) Decree 2012 as reported in your article of 9 February, titled "Media protected".

Lest I be liable under the Public Order (Amendments) Decree 2012, let me state at the outset that I am penning this letter as someone with a genuine interest in the development of responsible journalism and that I offer my opinions in the spirit of "transparent discussions" as mooted by Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the aforementioned article.

The provisions of the Decree appear to be modelled on the State Proceedings Act which afforded Members of Parliament certain privileges relating to their utterances in Parliament which would have otherwise opened them to court action if uttered in public.

First and foremost, the Parliamentary Privilege provision as correctly pointed out by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is applicable in most Commonwealth countries which have adopted the Westminster system of governance.

However, both Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and your newspaper have failed to point out the obvious to the reading public: that current ministers in Fiji were never elected; there is no Parliament in existence; and, the more important fact that Parliamentary Privilege does not extend beyond the doors of a properly constituted Parliament.

What the Decree does do is give all current government ministers the freedom to say whatever they wish to say, publicly or privately, defamatory or otherwise, and not be liable for their actions.

Despite the fact that the Public Order (Amendments) Decree 2012 does provide safeguards against issues like defamation, libel and slander, it is my humble opinion that this latest Decree contradicts those very provisions.

What is more appalling is the "carrot" being offered to media outlets to publish statements by ministers without fear of prosecution. The  same "carrot" is not offered in the case of injured parties wishing to respond to any targetted criticism by government ministers.

This, again, is in direct conflict of the Code of Ethics contained in the Fiji Media Industry Decree, where fairness, accuracy and balance are essential pre-requisites for responsible journalism.

The other worrying aspect of this Decree is that it will remain in force until a new Parliament is set in place. This gives current government ministers an unfair advantage if they are to contest the next general elections. This Decree stacks the election campaign in their favour as it gives them aboslute freedom to tear an opponent's character to shreds without fear of prosecution.

In the spirit of transparency, I would very much appreciate a more convincing explanation from Mr Sayed-Khaiyum as to how this Decree will "facilitate transparent discussions and exchange of views".

Yours sincerely,

Signed: Dennis Rounds
Lot 28 Vasatial Road
Laucala Beach Estate

Defamation protections for Fiji regime unwelcome, says PFF

PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- Fiji's journalists are being warned to steer clear of the latest media-related decree and stick to ethical standards to guide their reporting of regime speeches and statements. 
The warning comes in the wake of the country's new state proceedings decree, which grants Fiji's regime leader and his ministers exemption from defamation suits over anything they may say in public or private. 
Signed off on January 19th by the nation's President, the regime issued a statement this week claiming the decree will strengthen public discussion and consultation in the lead-up to planned elections in 2014. 
"Defamation and libel restrictions are a cornerstone of journalism ethics training and the practice applies whether a country has defamation laws or not. A leadership which protects itself but not its people from defamation suits cannot expect that to be welcome news. We urge and support our colleagues in Fiji to apply caution in interpreting this decree, and to resist any confusion with  parliamentary privilege which is only applied by democratically elected leaders, only in their official capacity, and only from the Parliament floor," says PFF chair Titi Gabi from Papua New Guinea. "Of all the decrees introduced by the regime this is the most blatant in its elitist protection of the regime leader and his ministers. The claim it will foster and open public debate because the media won't be facing defamation lawsuits over any stories quoting the regime leadership is a farce. Along with the Media Decree, this one should be immediately revoked."
"The best way to open public debate towards meaningful progress is to ensure the right to speak and be heard, to ask questions and to challenge ideas and policies, is to ensure everyone involved is able to openly do so," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller from American Samoa.
"This is yet another regime decree which adds to the current Media and other decrees shaping what is expressed in public and who says it. We stand by those media colleagues in Fiji who will strive in difficult times to uphold ethical standards, especially as they seek balance and right of reply from individuals and groups who may soon bear the brunt of the latest edict", she says.--ENDS
Decree announced: http://fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=0802129451fb595af42a6c83cc7e4e


Anonymous said...

The junta is gang of dozen thugs holding the country ransom by force.

The Public Order Decree and this immunity decree shows how lamu and coward this junta is.

A fair game will see the junta getting a free one way ride to naboro maximum within days.

The thug scam junta days are numbered.

The people are 800000 and junta a dozen crook band.

The people have real power and junta can wipe its butt with its decrees.

The final cassava patch dash for the junta is their final destiny.

Living a giant legal fiction.. said...

Looking increasingly like self proclaimed legal genius & supreme political strategist Khaiyum has trapped them all inside some sort of legal fantasy world garden maze where everythings starting to turn pear shape.

This regime was ruled illegal under its own law & in its own constituted courts.

Everyone within Viti's elite legal fraternity knows this - yet still this morose brooding silence continues?

This is no longer an issue of law -gone way past that - this is about simple common sense & honesty -lack of.

mark manning said...

Hello folks, you are living in a dictatorship, what else do you expect ?

Unemployed Hangman said...

In 1649 an English King Charles 1, who had acted tyrannically towards the people was charged with subverting the fundamental laws and liberties of the nation of England. He faced court and was convicted, given the death penalty and on a cold day in January the excecutioner chopped off his head. We in Fiji can learn from this.

It can be said that Bainimarama, Kaiyum and Nailatikau have similarly subverted the fundamental laws and liberties of the nation of Fiji. Hence, the trio should be charged with treason against the people of Fiji and also executed (hanged, electric-chair or by lethal-injection). We let Rabuka and Speight off lightly and created a nightmare. Let us resolve to punish these culprits appropriately so that a warning is signaled down thru the generations and this coup disease is finally terminated in our beloved Fiji.

Unfortunately, some human beings are so depraved that they wreck the lives of the majority and we need to protect ourselves from such malicious misbehaving individuals.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, you are quite right in your analysis. But the problem is that all right thinking citizens of Fiji agree with you except Frank and Khaiyum. Not because they are ignorant of the repercussions of the illegal decree, but that they want to create a favourable environment for them and their puppets now serving as illegal Ministers to carry out their campaign for the upcoming general elections (hopefully).

Khaiyum is a very dubious and evil man who has the illegal PM twisted around his little finger. The big problem is that the partly educated Frank does not realise this and gives Khaiyum the leeway to make decisions by himself on important government decisions.

Frank has turned a blind eye to this and only he will end up in shit street very very soon. Then only will he realise how Khaiyum has hoodwinked him all this time. After all, Frank is not that bright anyway.

Anonymous said...

The regime's media rules are simple: the media can repeat the regime's lies, without fear of prosecution, but woe betide anyone who attempts to expose the truth!

This regime will be its own undoing. It could easily manipulate the political process in such as way as to win an election and do so with the bare amount of credibility needed to placate most of the international community. But then, why didn't it simply do that years ago? No, Bainimarama and Aiyaz are thin-skinned cowards who can brook no criticism. So, they will continue to muck about, denying genuine political dialogue and interfering with the electoral process to such an extent that no amount of rhetoric will be able to hide the false nature of the exercise. They will find themselves again pretty much where they are today, bereft of all credibility as they continue to proclaim their legitimacy.

In attempting to prolong their rule, they will simply prolong Fiji's misery. But one day it will probably end as these things generally do -- in an ugly fashion, leaving behind an ephemeral and largely negative legacy that will bring them disrepute to the end of history.

s/ Dakuwaqa

Anonymous said...

Isaiah 10:1 - "Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees. and that write grievousness which they have prescribed."

Anonymous said...

You might have not known that this was to happen-but it has! I have said in the past that Frank has several ACES up his sleeve more than is allowed in a pack of cards. If they are accorded Parliamentary Privileges as attempted by the Khaiyum to save his skin so to speak than the best place to test that is in court after elections. It doesn't matter if he has it imcorporated into a decree etc because simple reasoning & common sense tells you that for that process to occur requires the existence of a PARLIAMENT! If we had sense we would all let him have his day with his decree and take the issue up in court when that day arrives. The reality is would this mob get elected into parliament if elections does take place????

Anonymous said...

Dina says...

Hey Fiji remember Frank Bainimarama & Aiyaz Khaiyum's & army clean up campaign......????

Where has it gone, I truely believe they have to go and clean themselves up first. They are rotten liars and son of satan.

Levu ga na lamu tiko Frank, just have the balls and be man to face prosecution and go to Naboro. George had balls, what about you using many bull-shit excuse.

qo sa qai tu na DA. just watch your steps because we at the camp are fed up with your bull-shit and nepotism styles. How long will you bribe us with pay....mmmmmm, next govt can also pay us the same but at least we will be proud of our army and institution. The clean up should start from delainabua. This is where blood flowed and you have blood on your hands too.

Anonymous said...

King Charles had to contend with very powerful land lords and business interests.
Whilst he may chop off commoners heads at his pleasure this ends when whent he chopper get to close to the elite.

In Fiji our elite are worse than cocoroaches, starting with our lawyers.
but think for a moment....what is the equivalent in Fiji to land Lords.
the supposed Chiefs of our Provinces.

Now if they were still Chiefs this nonsense Fiji has endured since 1987 would never have seen the light of day.

The Chiefs have shown themselves as base human beings with out any redeeming features, lawyers and all professionals. to include business community would be like asking a cat to be a dog.

...but ultimately we the people in fiji are the worst that humanity has to offer....cowardice.

cowardice is the mustard seed we planted as a people and now it has grown into a giant tree that is now the main charactisristic of our people.

our children are going to be cowards , our grandchildren are going to be cowards....Satans fully fledged coward nation of the world.

The way the world should be??

All happy and cowardly, to cowardly to confront the crooks, incompetent, nepotism, stupid leadership and vote for conman worthless bums .

in so far as this decree...will the media roll over.
guranteed no fijian journalist is ever going to die in the line of duty.

ex army said...

Mark Manning and all the Matavuvale Democracy suppoters.Too much talk and no action."Its not waht the country can do for you its what you can do for your country guys".People in Fiji needs to be properly informed on whats happening around them.Been to Fiji recently and nobody seems to bother of whats happening in the Goverment and thats where democracy fighters should be worried about.Target the grass root people rather than trying to concentrate on Bainimarama and Kaiyum.Shift our concentration to the grass root because its not the soldiers who holds the power its the people (us) who can topple the IG.Why talk about Kaiyum and Bai?they are part of the equation of evil but the real issue are for the people to know and understand their freedom and how we all can go about it.Thanks

Anonymous said...

Rabuka, George Speight, Bainimarama, Khaiyum, Chaudhary, Epeli should be hanged in public to show the world and Public of Fiji that there is no place for these kind of thugs and treasonists on this earth.Sooner we realise the damage these arseholes have done to our beautiful, loved and one time progressive country the better for All.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ex Army, for stating the bleeding obvious. No-one in Fiji talks like you people do on 4.5 about the government's failings. The game is over, guys. Join the party or die on the vine.

Kai Tholo. said...

@ Anon 2:59.

A "beautiful,loved & progressive country" where people are "hanged in public".

If thats your future vision of Viti strongly recommend you & other like minded people emigrate to a country more in tune with your views - try Saudi Arabia - Pakistan - Iran or Yemen?

Isa Lei - & have a safe journey.

Anonymous said...

Fiji Village this morning

Fiji Media Watch against State Proceedings Amendment Decree
Publish date/time: 11/02/2012 [09:19]

The Fiji Media Watch has released a statement saying that it does not support the State Proceedings Amendment Decree because it said in granting immunity to the press, the decree suppresses the freedom of the media to operate independently.

Earlier this week the Media Watch’s, Fulori Turaga had welcomed the decree however the organization’s Executive Director, Agatha Ferei now said the decree challenges the independence of the media and limits freedom of expression of citizens in Fiji.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Constitutional Forum is calling on the media to ensure that the rights of citizens are not violated through broadcasting or publishing comments from cabinet ministers that are protected by the new State Proceedings Amendment Decree.

CCF Chief Executive, Reverend Akuila Yabaki said the media should ensure that ethical journalism is practiced where both sides are permitted to air their views on issues or situations, and not allow room to be manipulated through personally targeted statements or comments against individuals.

Reverend Yabaki said the decree allows the current government ministers to say whatever they want against any individual or organization, whether it is defamatory or not, however those targeted are restricted from taking legal action in relation to any of the statements made by the ministers.

He said with the new decree, citizens would be vulnerable to personal attacks and unwarranted allegations.

CCF then goes on to say that the same rights and privileges should be granted to members of the public to allow free and open dialogue without any fear of being held liable.

However Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that the 'parliamentary privilege like powers' given to the Prime Minister and government ministers under the State Proceedings Amendment Decree will not be abused.

While reacting to comments made by Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, the Attorney General has told Fijivillage that the decree does not mean that government ministers will go around and start defaming everybody.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the amendment is to ensure that the ministers are able to publicize information through evidence received and also allows the media to run the information without fear of legal action.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

Mahendra Chaudhry has told Radio NZ that the amendment decree is ridiculous as it only gives legal protection to the government ministers to make any public statements from now until the next parliament sits.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please login to listen.

However Sayed Khaiyum said the fact that Chaudhry can make these comments shows that people can make comments about the government.

He also said that it is sad that Chaudhry is misleading people overseas and saying that Fiji is like a banana republic.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Anonymous said...

They make all sorts of decrees to suit them, FB and AK (IG)are lamu and they are doing everything to cover their large behinds.Also to all bloggers let address these wannabes as interim (PM, AG & MP,s)

Anonymous said...

Re: "However Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that the 'parliamentary privilege like powers' given to the Prime Minister and government ministers under the State Proceedings Amendment Decree will not be abused." There is NO SAFEGUARD MECHANISM in the Decree to ENSURE ministers do not abuse the "privilege". As a lawyer, Khaiyum knows this but prefers to think the rest of us Fiji citizens are dumb!!

mark manning said...

Ex Army
why don't you lobby your mates still in the Military to overthrow the mentally retarded Commander and arrest aiyaz and throw them both in prison ?
Frank has no authority according to Fiji's own Court of Appeal Ruling of April the 9th. 2009, so why are your mates in the RFMF still following him ?

Fiji Court of Appeal Judgement, April the 9th, 2009 :- http://www.scribd.com/doc/49058235/Qarase-vs-Bainimarama-Fiji-Court-of-Appeal-Judgement

Anonymous said...

UNEMPLOYED HANGMAN...Yes, you're absolutely right-on with your essays and it makes good sense! i've been saying the same thing for
the last decade, that we as a people need to do something drastic
and senisible to discourage anyone
from pulling another coup. We need
to tell our citizen that if you do this high treason,heres what will happen to you? that is why i think and feel that we must activate this rule to take effect immediately? We must trie Bainimarama and all those military colonels that defended his coup,than go after those that help
Bainimarama along the way? We will hanged the hardcore supporters and
jailed those that help Bai maintained his Governance!

ex army said...

To Mark Manning,
I do have the guts of going to Fiji and talk to the grass roots people and now Iam planning my next move you idiot.Just watch and see you coward.How can you people kept on talking without going to Fiji yourself and judge whats the people there think there?
I donot want to reveal all my findings here as its a waste of time talking to chicken like you who come and boast about your democracy fight for Fiji back here in Aussie.You probably will be another Pryde,Connors etc,etc waiting for oppoturnity in holding goverment post in Fiji.Your skin are so think for your head to take what we (Fijians) are telling you rather then trying to force the white supremcy tactics you are well known for.
Back off you fool
ex army

Anonymous said...

Further to my post of 11.29: One more point that needs to be driven home...
While Parliamentary Privilege exists in most Commonwealth parliaments, they also have what's called the Parliamentary Privileges Committe which censures MPs for untoward statements. Khaiyum's Decree does not provide this "accountability" mechanism. So, the STATE PROCEEDINGS DECREE IS FLAWED -- if Khaiyum deliberately refuses to see that, at least his trusted legal expert, Nazhat Shameem should -- or are they sharing the same blinkers like two peas in a pod?

Anonymous said...

OK guys, why put the cart before the horse? Don't even worry about any decrees hatched-up by Khaiyum,the bastard is only playing game with you-the general public-he's a frieken pathetic ego-centric assole, who does thing to promote himself! He can't help himself from doing this self-glorified ideas.So, if we don't pay as much attention to his web of tricks, he'd probably get bored and rattled? We all know that whatever decrees he comes up with,
would be illegal and will be thrown-out,tossed-out,cancelled-out
by any democratic government? So don't even waste you ink over his
trick and don't encouraged his ego!
He's not worth the decrees he writes!

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