Press Release – International Federation of Journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins with the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in condemning the detention of a Fiji Times journalist by military officers for his investigative
Fiji Times journalist Felix Chaudhary, 41, who is based in Lautoka on Fiji ’s main island of Viti Levu , was apprehended by military officers on February 18 when he was reporting on an event where the country’s regime leader Frank Bainimarama was present, PFF reported.
During his one-hour detention Chaudhary was told the regime was unhappy with the reports appearing under his byline on the sugar and aviation industries in Fiji . The journalist was not physically harmed in the incident.
Chaudhary is the first journalist known to have been detained in 2011, though the practice has been common since April 2009, when Public Emergency Regulations were put in place. The regulations were to be replaced by a new enforcement body, the Media Industry Development Authority, MIDA, which is backed by decree. However the regulations remain in force.
“This crude attempt by Fiji ’s military regime to intimidate and threaten a journalist who is doing his job reporting matters of public interest is of significant concern,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The military’s reliance upon the Public Emergency Regulations to harass journalists is intolerable and does not go unnoticed by the international media community.”
The IFJ joins with PFF in condemning the continued use of the Public Emergency Regulations which allow the military to arbitrarily detain and question civilians, and stands in solidarity with our colleagues in Fiji who comply with codes of journalistic ethics of an international standard under extreme circumstances.