February 25, 2007

Mainstream media catch on

Reactions to Intelligentsiya's posting of international lawyer James Crawford’s opinion on the legality of the appointment of Justice Anthony Gates as acting Chief Justice by the military-installed interim regime have began to trickle into Fiji’s mainstream media.

Legend FM news reported on Saturday that interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Crawford’s opinion originated through the “misguided” direction from the anonymous Fiji lawyers who asked for his opinion.

Also on Saturday, the Fiji Sun in an article on Page 3 reported the contents of Crawford’s report first posted on Intelligentsiya on February 21.

Titled “Academic says CJ unconstitutional”, the report written by Cheeriann Wilson led off with Crawford’s pronouncement that the process of Gates’ appointment was constitutionally flawed.

The Fiji Sun report even carried word-for-word portions of Intelligentsiya’s posting introducing Crawford, without crediting the blog.

Over the week, several different aspects of Crawford’s report have been repeated in the local media.

Crawford’s opinion has been downloaded more than 25 times since Intelligentsiya posted it on February 21.

On the Intelligentsiya blog, comments have also flowed in about Crawford’s legal viewpoint. The majority of people commenting have applauded the legal opinion, while some have accused him of glossing over war crimes committed by the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom over the war in Iraq and the nuclear programmes of the US and UK.

Somebody sympathetic to Crawford’s legal stand said: “I confess that I am no expert in legal opinion but if Crawford's comment is something to go by, I'd like to suggest that we do something constructive out of it.”

A sceptical poster said: “If it is convenient for an overseas legal expert to adjudicate Fiji's situation, then it is appropriate for Fiji to judge Crawford's perception on real abuses of international law.”

Meanwhile, in a rather confusing story on Page 4 of Saturday’s Fiji Times headlined “State of Emergency comes to an end”, an un-credited reporter writes that a legal notice (The Government Gazette) by the interim government on February 12 says the state of emergency was cancelled on February 4.

Yet in the following paragraphs its quotes interim Attorney-General Sayed-Khaiyum as saying that President Ratu Josefa Iloilo declared the Public Emergency Regulation active from February 5.

Presumably, what the article is talking about is the extension of the “state of emergency” period, which the interim administration is using as justification for the limiting of citizens’ fundamental rights such as free speech and freedom of association (public sector unions have been warned against strike action over unsettled grievances with the state on the grounds that they would be in breach of the regulation).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing my brother's story,we his family around the world are able to know the loss of our beloved brother.I hope that the citizens of Fiji will come out and share their stories that it may end the exploitation of human rights and bullying tactics by the military.