Tuesday, 26 January 2010

PFF on Fiji: Free speech, expression clampdown continues with Jalal case

Wednesday 27 January: 

The court appearance this week of a leading Pacific human rights lawyer and trainer continues the clampdown against free speech advocates in Fiji, says the Pacific Freedom Forum. 

Leading Pacific human rights trainer Imrana Jalal (left) is due to reappear in court tomorrow Thursday 28 January to continue hearings on the case brought against her by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

Jalal told Australia and New Zealand media earlier this month (links at end ) the court proceedings are a 'trumped up' attempt to silence her and other regime critics.

She has spoken out in support of human rights and democracy in Fiji since the current regime staged its coup at the end of 2006.

The initial hearing in early January, on similar charges against her husband Sakiusa Tuisolia, had been adjourned after the magistrate involved had questioned why FICAC wanted to pursue the issue of a minor city council infringement.

The magistrate, Mary Muir, was sacked two days later.

No explanation has been given as to why she and two other magistrates were terminated.

“Every Pacific nation with a news outlet boasts a journalist who has heard of, interviewed, or been trained in media, governance and human rights by Imrana Jalal,”says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea. “Her dedication and hard work has inspired and informed many of the founding members of the Pacific Freedom Forum and indeed, our regional umbrella, the Pacific Islands News Association, PINA.”

Jalal, a regional public servant who travels the Pacific and worldwide as the Human Rights Adviser for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, had her passport seized on January 11.

A global outcry from Amnesty International and other human rights defender networks (see links below) has called on the Fiji authorities to stop the harassment of Jalal and other human rights defenders in Fiji.

PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa says it is “ironic that a Pacific light for freedom of expression and the rule of law is now proving to all of us through her own life what happens when these universal human rights go out the window. We honour her courage, her determination to denounce her oppressors in public, and her refusal to be silenced; and will continue to condemn the campaign of harassment, intimidation and fear being waged by a regime against citizens whose work is so important to an entire region, not just to Fiji.”

The Pacific Freedom Forum calls on the regime to:
 Return the focus of FICAC to corruption in public office and prosecute within its mandate
 Stop the harassment of human rights defenders in Fiji and return freedom of expression, movement and assembly for all
 Revoke the media decree, remove military censors and give control of news content back to editors.
Background | links

Fiji lawyer says prosecution meant to shut her up

Fiji court orders ICJ lawyer to surrender passport

Human rights lawyer charged, magistrate sacked

Amnesty International statement:

Joint AWID/APWLD/WLUML statement:

PHOTOCREDIT: http://www.greenpeace.org/

. . .

Regional media watchdog repeat call on Fiji regime to drop the decree 'sham'.

January 25th, 2010-- Fiji’s military regime can save time, money and credibility by dropping plans to rehash a ‘media’ decree and doing away with the whole thing, says the Pacific Freedom Forum. Leading mainstream media outlets Fiji Times and Fiji Television have been banned from a “consultations” process on a new media decree expected to take effect next month, a move which renders the whole process “meaningless”, according to the Pacific Freedom Forum. “Let newsrooms do their own editing, not military censors,” says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea. “It is a new year, the chance for a new page. We say to the regime leaders: give your people back their right to free speech and freedom of assembly; and ditch the punitive decree agenda. It does your credibility no favours.”