Home » Uncategorized » Press freedom in electoral period and during the elections has been under attack.

Press freedom in electoral period and during the elections has been under attack.

RSF, PMC call for repeal of Fiji’s Media Decree through UN human rights body

<!—->Delegates listen to speeches during the 13th session of the Human Rights Council  in Geneva

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Anna Majavu

Reporters Sans Frontières and the Pacific Media Centre have called for a repeal of the Media Decree and introduction of a Freedom of Information law in Fiji ahead of a United Nations periodic review in Geneva next month.

Fiji has returned to democracy in the past week with the 2006 military coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama being elected prime minister with a dominating victory. He was sworn in as Prime Minister yesterday.

The joint RSF-PMC submission will be considered by the UN Human Rights Council when it monitors Fiji at its universal periodic review next month.

The review sees every UN member state being reviewed every four and a half years, and then being given recommendations that they must implement before the next review.

At Fiji’s last review in 2010, Fiji accepted dozens of UN Human Rights Council recommendations including that they abolish the death penalty, ensure the independence of the Human Rights Commission, pass new laws against domestic violence, investigate all alleged human rights violations and bring all those responsible to justice and that they set up a visit for the UN special rapporteur on torture.

Fiji was also tasked with setting up an environment in which all of Fiji’s citizens can meet freely and express political opinions without fear or retribution, and with ending arbitrary detention of human rights defenders.

The UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations in 2010 were that the then military regime stop repressing journalists, end censorship of the media and guarantee the integrity of human rights defenders and of persons who criticise the government’s actions, stop attacks, harassment, intimidation and detention with regard to journalists, critics and human rights activists and allow people to criticise the regime without fear of arrest, intimidation or punishment.

End to threats
However, according to the joint RSF-PMC submission, Fiji has yet to accomplish most of these recommendations.

Among the recommendations, the joint submission says there must be an end to indirect threats against the media or editorial interference. The government should take steps to ensure more transparency and access to information by urgently enacting a Freedom of Information law.

The Media Industry Development Decree must be revoked and bans on individual foreign journalists who have annoyed the military regime with their reporting must be lifted.

RSF’s Asia-Pacific director Benjamin Ismail says the submission aims to highlight to UN member states what the Fiji government needs to do to achieve press freedom and a transparent society where there is access to information.

It was “regrettable” that the media decree had resulted in a 48 hour “blackout” on media coverage of last week’s elections, said Ismail.

“Press freedom in electoral period and during the elections has been under attack. More media coverage and press freedom could have decreased the risk of fraud. I truly hope the fraud accusations will not throw the country into a political crisis,” Ismail told PMW.

PMC director professor David Robie welcomed the successful election last week, but added: “This is just a start. There is a long journey ahead and full press freedom is a critical part of that journey.”

The full RSF-PMC submission

Source: Pacific Media Watch 8986

One thought on “Press freedom in electoral period and during the elections has been under attack.

  1. Press freedom and the citizens’ freedom to meet and speak should have been established prior to the election. The fact that this was not done is one of the many reasons the election was not free and fair. The opposition parties seriously underestimated the impact of the decrees and overestimated their own abilities and strategies to counter them. But let us hope that the current intimidation and threats posed through the media decrees and the like will gradually decrease and disappear. I doubt that would happen soon, simply for two reasons. Khaiyum knows the positive benefit for the rulers to have them. The other is that they will not just throw away their chances to rule Fiji for another four years by having the public know how much they have stolen and cheated and murdered their way into power over the last 8 years. It is therefore logical and likely to expect that some of these “beneficial” decrees shall become law. After all, what is there to stop them from making and passing their own laws, now that they have the right and the power to do so. Welcome to BaiKai’s new Fiji.

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