Thursday, 16 March 2017

Fiji police should face suspension - PFF

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“We’re calling on Fiji police to follow normal procedure in this case and suspend any officer under investigation.”
#fiji #media #assault #pacific #journalism #safety

Praneeta Prakash interviewed after being struck in the stomach with a stone. Photo / FBC via Pacific Media Watch
Police failing to take action against a prisoner that assaulted a Fiji journalist should face immediate suspension, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“Once again police are failing to uphold the law,” says PFF Chair Monica Miller.
“Refusing to answer a complaint from a journalist, hit in the stomach right in front of them, outside the country’s main courts, is a serious dereliction of duty.”
Filming a man sentenced on a corruption case, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation journalist Praneeta Prakash was struck in the stomach with a stone thrown by a remand prisoner.
The prisoner was under police escort at the time.
They refused to take action even as the prisoner swore and verbally abused Prakash.
PFF welcomed quick condemnation from the Fiji Media Assocation over the attack, and the failure by police to take immediate action.
“All too often, media fail to raise any protest when a colleague is threatened or assaulted”, says Miller.
“Quick responses from FMA puts pressure on FBC to follow up and insist on official action against the prisoner, and the officers who failed to do their duty.”

FBC carried news of the attack this week, exposing police inaction. Image / FBC
PFF supports a statement from Fijian Media Association general secretary Stanley Simpson that reporters cover court cases to inform the public and ensure justice is served.
Simpson said that journalists “need to be left to do their work because in the end it benefits everyone.”
He referred to incidents where a Fiji TV reporter was manhandled, and a Fiji Sun reporter also got attacked attacked recently.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro - "journalists have every right" to film in public. Screenshot / FBC
Public interest
“Now we see the terrible incident of a stone being thrown at a journalist”, said Simpson.
“In these public spaces, and especially in the public interest, the journalist has every right to be there to take footage.”
PFF welcomed a promise from Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro that a thorough investigation would be carried out.
Naisoro said that they “have had some incidents where members of the public have attacked journalists again. We would request them to respect the rights of the journalist. They are simply doing their jobs, they’re not breaking any law.”
PFF says that Police leadership needs to send a strong message to its officers that they need to take action when they see crime - and punish those that don’t. Says Miller, “We’re calling on Fiji police to follow normal procedure in this case and suspend any officer under investigation.”
Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj was quoted as saying that it was “deeply concerning” that journalists are exposed to such incidents, and calling for a safe environment where media are able to discharge their duties.

An officer turns towards the camera, just after the stone was thrown. Image / FBC
Regional perspective
Assaults against news media in Fiji join similar incidents in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and, most seriously, in West Papua.
From a regional perspective on journalism safety, Miller noted that Indonesia was this week hosting police chiefs from Melanesian states.
“In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day being hosted in Indonesia this May, there should be much greater effort among police chiefs to uphold safety for members of the press.”
Journalist attacked - FBC
Safety of Fiji media personnel comes under the spotlight
Condemnation of attack on Fiji journalist outside Suva courthouse
Attack on FBC reporter outside court stirs media protests
Monica Miller PFF Chair News Director South Seas Broadcasting American Samoa +6842584197
Alexander Rheeney PFF Co-Chair President Media Council PNG Papua New Guinea +67578045266
Bernadette H. Carreon PFF Co-Chair Palau Correspondent Guam Business +680779430
Netani Rika PFF Coordinator Communications Director Pacific Council of Churches Fiji
The Pacific Freedom Forum is 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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