1 November, 2009-- Fiji's Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (right) has erased his own credibility with 'delusional' notions that Fiji has a free media, says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.
According to media reports, Khaiyum told a regional journalism seminar at the University of the South Pacific on Friday 31st October Fiji's media were free to report on any issue, asking “Is there a restriction? Are journalists being locked up? Are journalists being told what to write? No!"
But in the same presentation on the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) introducing regime censorship of all newsrooms in April 2009, he admitted the "fundamental issue as far as the media control at the moment is concerned is that you do not have politicians being reported."
"The fact that his monologue went unchallenged by his audience only proves that self-censorship is thriving under the PER. Mr. Khaiyum should know his claim Fiji journalists have not been restricted, locked up, or told what to write, is clearly delusional and out of touch with reality," says PFF Chair Susuve Laumaea of PNG.
The transition of leadership at the Fiji Media Council (FMC) will come to nothing if the military regime does not relax its stranglehold on free media and free speech in Fiji, says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF).
The PFF praised the contribution and effort of FMC's inaugural chair Daryl Tarte (left) and the voluntary energies he put into the role for more than a decade. PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of PNG says Tarte’s resignation last week should provide impetus for renewed focus on the 2009 review into the Fiji Media Council.
"As the review points out, the role of an independent complaints process for the public needs to be promoted and enforced in a timely way. For that to happen, the military regime should take heed of the review findings and get their censors out of Fiji's newsrooms. A free media council relies on a free media and a freely speaking public to do its job well,” says Laumaea.
“We encourage whoever takes up the task of leading the Fiji media Council through a challenging time, to be there as a watchdog for media standards, and use every opportunity to convince the military junta that the media should be seen as a partner in getting Fiji well
and truly on the way back to full democratic rule,” he says.