February 10, 2012

IFJ Aust Pacific: Caution Advised Over Fiji’s New Decree

10 February 2012

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in advising caution regarding the latest media-related decree issued by Fiji’s authorities.

The new state proceedings decree, signed off by Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on January 19, grants full exemption from defamation claims for any private or public statements made by the regime’s leader and his ministers.

The decree, in effect, attempts to extend the notion of parliamentary privilege to all statements made by members of parliament.

The regime issued a statement the same week, claiming the decree will strengthen public discussion and consultation in the lead-up to planned national elections in 2014.

“The IFJ joins the PFF in questioning how the new decree will benefit transparency and good governance in Fiji”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.

“Removing parliamentarians from the defamation and libel restrictions that apply to all non-parliamentarian Fiji Islanders is unlikely to promote open public debate ahead of the 2014 elections.

The IFJ joins the PFF in arguing that the best way to encourage positive public discussion is to ensure all people, including the media, have the right to ask legitimate questions of government, and hold public figures accountable for their statements”.

The new decree follows the recent announcement by Commodore Frank Bainimarama during his New Year’s address to the nation that the existing media regulations, in place since April 2009, would be removed to allow preparations for the drafting of a new national constitution.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific 

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