Thursday, 8 April 2010

Death by decree for media freedom in Fiji, says PFF

Rarotonga, Cook Islands -- A decree aimed at replacing censorship and human rights restrictions in Fiji will deal a death-blow to freedoms of speech if not changed, says regional watchdog PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“The draft decree replaces newsroom censorship with something far more obvious and dangerous,” says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea, of Papua New Guinea.
“Saying censorship will no longer exist is misleading, because with this decree there isn’t a need for newsroom censors. Overly heavy fines and punishments thrown at those who don’t tow an arbitrary line will mean no independent newsrooms to censor.
“The entire media system will only say what the regime wants to hear,” says Laumaea.
“Our only hope is that media feedback into the so-called 'consultations' this week is seriously taken into account and impacts on the final form of the decree,” he says.
PFF co-chair Monica Miller says regional agencies and development partners involved in human rights and media development must not stay silent on the repression in Fiji.
“Fiji is a hub for regional agencies involved in human rights and freedom of information work. They can all  do their part to leave the regime and other Pacific nations in no doubt about the massive impacts on human rights and governance of this media decree.”
“Openly or not, development partners must support all parts of Fiji media and other elements of society who believe free speech and freedom of expression are essential conditions of progressive governance.”
“As well, concerns from the Fiji Times on economic impacts of the media decree can hardly be surprising,” says Miller.
“It’s not rocket science.  Restrictions on investment potential via foreign ownership, coupled with exhorbitant fines for those who upset the regime-controlled media authority, puts the livelihoods of working journalists and their families at risk.”--ENDS
PFF interim Chair
Susuve Laumaea | Sunday Chronicle Newspaper | Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 | Office: 675-321-7040 | Email:

PFF interim co-Chair
Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email:

The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media.
We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.

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