Reading between the lines….. The reporter was quoting a Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji officer who was not authorised to speak publicly……but what was the correct story? Where is the investigative reporting?

Inaccurate, unauthorized information published-Slack

The Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji yesterday met with the reporter from one of the dailies in relation to the story of an 18 year old girl who was found on a yacht near Malake Island Rakiraki.

In a statement Chief Executive Officer Neale Slack said that the reporter has confirmed that inaccurate and unauthorized information was published.

The reporter also apologized for the unauthorized quoting of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji officer.

Slack said no officer of the MSAF was authorised to release information to the media other than the CEO.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Police Force has refuted reports in relation to the story.

In a statement, police say that at no point in time did they receive a report of an 18 year old that was found on a yacht or was in their custody.

Police say the reports are nothing more than assumptions and speculation and it is worrying to note that this was not taken into account although this was highlighted to the reporter concerned.

Story by: Filipe Naikaso and Praneeta Prakash

The Office of the Prime Minister presented the mission with entirely new terms of reference, which the ILO found unacceptable. As a result, the ILO mission was asked to leave Fiji immediately.

ILO – International Labour Organization : ILO mission to Fiji aborted

09/19/2012 | 12:45pm US/Eastern

GENEVA (ILO news) – The Fijian government has stopped the  International Labour Organization (ILO) from carrying out a      mission to verify complaints over the lack of freedom of  association made by local trade unions, the ILO said in a       statement issued on 19 September.
The government had initially agreed to the ILO mission, but  then called it short during the first meeting on Wednesday 19      Sptember. The Office of the Prime Minister presented the  mission with entirely new terms of reference, which the ILO      found unacceptable. As a result, the ILO mission was asked to leave Fiji immediately.
The ILO mission was mandated by the ILO Governing Body Committee on Freedom of Association and the unanimously      adopted Resolution on Fiji adopted at the ILO’s Asia and  Pacific Regional Meeting in December 2011.

Marc Edge and Sharon Smith-Johns agree there is self censorship in Fiji (but they are all too scared to say so)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Journalists themselves admit there is no self-censorship

Well, I guess that settles that. There is no self-censorship in the Fiji news media, according to CFL. At least that’s the conclusion they have come to after interviewing several of their fellow journalists. This is great news. A lot of needless concern will now be alleviated. Personally, I am greatly relieved that this is settled because, frankly, I was getting worried.
I don’t know how I could have been so wrong. And not just me, of course, but others. Like Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns. Why else would she have urged Fiji journalists to “report fully and without fear or favour” and to not use the Media Decree “as an excuse not to do their jobs.” And apparently other folks have also had their facts backwards, too. Like Matilda Bogner, the United Nations Human Rights representative for the Pacific. She actually DID do a study on this subject for World Press Freedom Day in May. Here’s what she said.
It appears that a culture of self-censorship continues to exist for journalists in Fiji. A preliminary media content analysis conducted recently by my office, comparing Fiji’s two main daily newspapers, the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun, before and after the lifting of the PER, suggests that there has been no distinguishable change in the level of criticism of the Fiji Government observed in either newspaper.
Then there are the women’s rights groups in Fiji that say they had newspaper advertisements rejected that highlighted issues concerning the ongoing constitutional review process. Shamima Ali of the Fiji’s Women’s Crisis Centre said two weeks ago that both daily newspapers in Fiji told them to tone down the language in the ads.

“One of them wanted to have a meeting to tone down the ad, which we refused to do, and a spokesperson from there said ‘I hope you understand’,” she said. “The other said ‘sorry we can’t’, after deliberating on it for nearly two and a half days.”

Talk about a climate of fear. They’re even reportedly turning down advertising, which newspapers rarely do. And just yesterday, the Fiji Labour Party demonstrated that it, too, was labouring under an illusion in its submissionto the Contitutional Commission hearings. “The media in Fiji continues to operate as though it is still under strict censorship,” it said. “Indeed, the environment is still quite substantially coercive and threatening.” It cited the Television (Amendment) Decree 52, under which the licence of any television station that contravenes the 2010 Media Decree can be revoked by the minister responsible without appeal, as an example of press intimidation. “We do not have an independent, free, liberated media in Fiji. The fines for incurring the wrath of the regime are so excessive that no media organization would dare fall foul of it.”

The repercussions of such a cowed media are fatal for the success of a “free and open” consultation process. Articles, opinions or comments that question the regime or oppose its views are rarely, if ever, run. For instance, not a single mention was made in the news pages of the Fiji Times of the Constitution Commission’s media conference held on 19 July 2012. The Fiji Times ran a feature article two days later buried in the inside pages of its publication. How many people would have read the strong criticism voiced by Commission Chair Professor Yash Ghai, particularly of Decrees 57 and 58?

At our symposium last week, the topic of self-censorship became a bit of a sore point. CFL news director Vijay Narayan, who never responded to my attempts to recruit him to sit on a panel on this topic at our symposium, appeared anyway in his role as a journalist and made a speech from the front row. “Everyone who is commenting on claims that there is widespread self-censorship in the country are making comments without any proper surveys conducted with journalists and media outlets,” he said. To which Fiji Times lawyer Richard Naidu deliciously retorted: “To suggest that the media is not operating under a set of self-censorship rules means that one of us is on the wrong planet.” Watch the video here. In reporting on this controversy today, Alex Perrottet interviewed Fiji TV’s legal manager, Tanya Waqanika, who said that Fiji journalists are still afraid to ask tough questions because of the penalties contained in the Media Decree. “The journalists, they see the penalties,” she told Perrottet. “If you were in that situation, and there’s a court case currently against the Fiji Times, for any person, it freaks them out. No one wants to be fined.” Perrottet, who is researching his Master’s thesis on this topic at Auckland University of Technology, even gave us a preview of his research on AUT’s website Pacific Media Centre.

There is extensive evidence that due to censorship, the print media in Fiji is suffering from self-censorship, as they are not sure where the line will be drawn by the government.

So I don’t know why CFL is shooting at me every day. I’m not even the messenger. I’m only an educator. And I obviously have a lot of work to do.

We need peace and an end to the coup culture. Out of the mouth of the children………

Youth calls for capital punishment for coup makers

07:20 Today


Taken from/By: Report by: Vosita Kotoiwasawasa

There have been concerns raised in the past in the lack of youth participation in the constitution making process.

At the Constitution Commission hearing yesterday, two youths made submissions on issues they felt was relevant to their peers.

Charlene Shekar wants a constitution to guarantee national security and to have capital punishment for coup makers.

We need peace and an end to the coup culture. The Constitution should have provisions for the maximum penalties and even capital punishment for the coup perpetrators.

Her sister Michelle Shekar says youths should have representation in the new parliament.

It is recommended that at least one seat per division is reserved for elected youth parliamentarians. This would be a member from the West, North, Southern and Eastern parts of Fiji. Those four seats will all talk about empowerment and inclusiveness in decision-making.

The Constitution Commission hearings will continue for some time and more Fijians are being encouraged to come forward.

Commodore Bainimarama must feel he instigated Fiji’s coup too early – had he waited until February 2012, he too could have learned how to usurp power and avoid the censure of the watching world.

How To Plan The Perfect Coup: Lessons From Fiji And The Maldives

Posted: 09/10/2012 1:00 pm
In 2006, in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, troops overran the capital city, threatened the Prime Minister, forced his resignation, placed him under house arrest, imposed censorship on the media, and the coup leader, in the form of the head of the army, went on television to declare himself the new ruler of the country.

In 2012, in my country, the Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, mutinying police andsoldiers overran the capital city, gave me, the President, an ultimatum to resign within the hour or face bloodshed, placed me under effective house arrest, raided the headquarters of the national broadcaster, and the coup leader, in the form of the Vice President, went on television to declare himself the new ruler of the country.

In the case of Fiji, the international community swiftly condemned the coup, blackballed Fiji from the club of civilized nations and suspended it from the Commonwealth. In the case of the Maldives, a report drafted by a Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) which was dominated by hand-picked appointees of the coup-installed government, and endorsed by the Commonwealth, has just whitewashed the coup, declaring it a perfectly legitimate and constitutional transfer of power.

Fiji and the Maldives’ contrasting experiences provide useful tips for coup-plotters everywhere. When planning your coup, remember that first impressions count — so don’t dress like an obvious coup leader. The man who takes over from the democratically elected leader should not wear military fatigues, as Commodore Frank Bainimarama did in Fiji; instead wear a lounge suit, as former Vice President Waheed Hassan did in the Maldives.

Secondly, get your messaging right: never, as in Fiji, publicly state you are overthrowing an elected government; instead, as in the Maldives, announce that the President’s resignation is a run-of-the-mill and Constitutional transfer of power.

Finally, have patience: if you follow steps 1 and 2, sooner or later the international community will tire of political upheaval and accept the new, coup-led political order, regardless of outward commitments to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The CoNI report, which declared the Maldives’ coup lawful, has been a huge blow and a profound disservice to the Maldivian people, many of whom watched February’s illegal transfer of power unfold in front of their eyes: in the streets, on television, and through the hundreds of eye-witness video clips posted on YouTube and Facebook.

On the one hand, Maldivians should not have been surprised by the CoNI’s conclusions. The Committee was created by Waheed, the chief beneficiary of the coup, who stacked it with his own allies, and placed the defence minister of former dictator Gayoom at its helm. However, the eleventh hour inclusion of a retired Singaporean judge, appointed with the blessing of the Commonwealth, plus one single nominee, appointed by me, was supposed to provide a modicum of balance to the final report. Sadly, it did not.

My nominee, Ahmed Saeed, resigned from the Committee before its report was released, citing that crucial evidence, such as video footage of the police rampaging through Male, was not included in the Committee’s report. He further noted that the testimony of key witnesses was not included, and that central figures involved in the coup, such as opposition figure Umar Naseer who publicly admitted the existence of a coup “command center” from which events were directed, were not even interviewed.

recent assessment of the CoNI report by a legal team led by Sri Lanka’s former Attorney General, states that the report “amounts to a dangerous and severe erosion of the electoral franchise and mandate of the people.” In effect, the CoNI report says it is perfectly legitimate for a mob of mutinying police and army to topple an elected government from the streets. The legal team’s assessment further states: “there was in fact adequate evidence to suggest that duress (or even ‘coercion’ and/ or illegal coercion as used by CoNI) is attributable to the resignation of President Nasheed.”

Despite these serious flaws, and in the interests of moving forward, I have formally accepted the CoNI report – but only alongside Ahmed Saeed’s reservations.

A more useful analysis of the Maldives’ sorry situation comes from a recent report by Amnesty International, whose researchers conducted a professional and truly independent on- the-ground investigation. Amnesty’s report strongly condemns the on-going abuses by the coup-installed regime, stating that: “Without an end to – and accountability for – these human rights violations, any attempt at political reconciliation in the Maldives will be meaningless.”

Many other international human rights bodies have joined Amnesty in categorically condemning the Waheed regime’s repeated human rights violations, including Reporters without Borders and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Unfortunately, the CoNI report has gifted the regime with the get-out-of-jail-free card and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group may now decide on 11 September to remove the Maldives from its watch-list of human rights violators. If they do, it will offer the regime a green light to crack down even harder on civil society, the media and the political opposition.

In an ironic twist of fate, the regime has also announced that they will use the CoNI report as a pretext to place me on trial — likely barring me from standing as the MDP’s elected nominee in the next presidential election.

As the Arab Spring continues its inevitable march across the Islamic world, the Maldives could have been an example of where the international community stood up for Muslim democrats, by forcing a coup regime to hold early elections and restore democracy. Sadly, the Maldives’ case is more likely to be used by aspiring coup plotters, as a useful guide on how to pull it off. Commodore Bainimarama must feel he instigated Fiji’s coup too early – had he waited until February 2012, he too could have learned how to usurp power and avoid the censure of the watching world.

 Follow Mohamed Nasheed on Twitter:

Fiji women’s groups condemn ban on their advertisments

Fiji women concerned by media self-censorship

Posted 31 August 2012, 9:53 AEST

Women’s rights groups in Fiji have raised concerns about freedom of expression, saying they’ve been prevented from publishing newspaper advertisements which highlighting issues about the constitution review process.

Shamima Ali says Fiji's two daily newspapers told them to tone down the language in the ads

Shamima Ali says Fiji’s two daily newspapers told them to tone down the language in the ads (Credit:  Reuters)

 Fiji women’s groups condemn ban on their advertisments
Women’s rights groups in Fiji have raised concerns about freedom of expression in Fiji. (Credit:  ABC)

Shamima Ali, co-ordinator of Fiji’s Women’s Crisis Centre, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the nation’s two daily newspapers told them to tone down the language in the ads.

“One of them wanted to have a meeting to tone down the ad, which we refused to do, and a spokesperson from there said ‘I hope you understand’,” she said.

“The other said ‘sorry we can’t’, after deliberating on it for nearly two and a half days.”

The review of the constitution is taking place ahead of planned democratic elections in 2014.

Ms Ali says the ad follows a press release on their concerns over the process, which was also largely ignored by local media

She says the newspapers are stifling debate by their self-censorship.

“Critics, as well as supporters of views should be, this is the time for the debate and discussion around this issue, and they should be published and the media should be free to publish it,” she said.

“This should be easy, because they’re always calling for us to place advertisements in the paper, and there’s nothing in there that was seditious or in any way would have brought the country down or created uproar…or anything like that.

“It’s just ordinary citizens who represent constituencies of women and so on who are expressing views that perhaps might be expressing view that are opposing those of government, or who are supporting of government.”

Once again the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama attacks submissions to the Constitution Commission. Remember his statement that all were free and welcome to make any submission they want.

Beddoes submission was ‘for his own interest’: PM

07:12 Today


Taken from/By: FBC News Report by: Roland Koroit

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has taken a swipe at submissions made to the Constitution Commission by UPP Leader Mick Beddoes, saying it was for his own interest.

In his submission Beddoes outlines a number of issues, including the name of the country to be changed to Fiji Islands and that citizens be known as Fiji Islanders.

The Prime Minister says Mick Beddoes is confused, saying the actions of the former opposition leader is nothing less than grandstanding.

“Somehow Mick Beddoes can’t figure out where he is coming from seriously. And the same goes for other Political parties that have come out with their submissions. People of Fiji …and I speak on their behalf, really don’t know how to convince these type of people that this is the right path forward for us.”

In his submissions, Beddoes also calls for the re-establishment and strengthening of the GCC, and that it is given constitutional responsibilities and complete independence from the government, among others.

The Prime Minister believes this is no different from the submissions made by Beddoes political partners, who he says are only driving their personal agenda and the agenda of their political parties, without thinking of the future of all Fijians.

“Whatever you come out with in your submissions should be for the good of the people of Fiji and not for yourselves. I mean look at what he’s come out with? It’s not different from what has been mentioned by the SDL. It’s very self-serving.”

Bainimarama is calling on all political parties and the public to focus on the future and not get influenced by the work of old politicians who continue to remain in the past.

Since 2006, and restrictions imposed under the Public Emergency Regulations- Singh says better reporting has emerged.

Fiji media blamed for fall of democracy

07:34 Today


Taken from/By: Report by: Roland Koroi

The Fiji media shares the blame for the collapse of democracy in 2000 – which also led to many people accepting the coup.

This is the view of political commentator Thakur Ranjit Singh, who’s written several papers on the media and says there’s been a major shift in reporting in recent years.

A former Fiji resident with a masters in communication studies who now lives in New Zealand, Singh studied the Fiji media for over a year.

“The media was fanning their racial hatred, that’s why that when, on the 19th of May 2000, when Speight staged the coup, there was no public outcry in favour of democracy, because people had been brainwashed that that was a government that deserved to go, irrespective of how it came into power.”

But since 2006, and restrictions imposed under the Public Emergency Regulations- Singh says better reporting has emerged.

If it wasn’t for the controls and the push for the media to get away from the racial conflict and other conflict srories, we wouldn’t see all those good stories coming out of village’s, how people are struggling, how they sweated to make sure that their children graduated, the people stories.

Singh believes to improve local reporting, real efforts must be put in to schools that groom journalists, and news editors and journalist themselves need to be more responsible.

The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has finally been issued the permit to hold its annual conference………….but

The Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua, he confirmed that there were strict conditions set out to be followed by the church..
Police officers would sit in during the conference.
Commissioner Naivalurua said the reason why police officers would be sitting in during the annual conference was for them to monitor all that was being discussed.

“I think people need to shut up” …….said Ms Smith-Johns.

Ghai: It’s a transparent process

Nanise Loanakadavu Saturday, August 18, 2012

FIJI Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai believes that the government should not scrutinise or criticise submissions made by people in the constitution consultation process.

Prof Ghai told The Fiji Times yesterday that the process was transparent and an open one.

“This is a free process,” he said.

“The Constitution Commission is an independent body and is here to listen to the people of Fiji.

“This is the process where we encourage people of all ethnicity, class and community to come forward and make their views known to us.”

Prof Ghai said the commission was mandated to listen to all who make submissions to them and they would take every submission made to the commission seriously.

“This is why we are here — to listen to the people,” he said. “We encourage everyone from all ethnic background to come forward and make submissions,” he said.

He said those who could not appear before the commission and make a submission could send in their submissions through e-mail, by post or hand-deliver it to them.

Prof Ghai said Fijians of Indian descent as well as Rotumans, Banabans, Chinese and other communities who were Fijians and the iTaukei members should come forward and make their views known.

Permanent secretary for Information, Sharon Smith-Johns said, “We do not want to comment, because we will distract the process.

“I think people need to shut up,” she said. “Professor Yash Ghai has been making these statements from the beginning,” said Ms Smith-Johns.

He is gotta stop bullying the process.

Non negotiable principles to stay says PM


Suva lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry said the Constitution Commission should not be bound by any of the non-negotiable principles set out by the Prime Minister.

Chaudhry said no matter what the non-negotiables are, if majority of the people think otherwise then the commission should take their point of view.

“There should be no pre-conditions set on what the constitution commission is to put in it’s final report. It should I think contain what the people have said and Bainimarama cannot set the parameters of the outcome of the commission report. That needs to be made absolutely clear to him. He is gotta stop bullying the process. He must recognize it and respect this commission. The constitution is above Bainimarama or any citizen. It will be the supreme document of the land and for that it must reflect the wishes of the people. At the end of the day it is what the people think and the people decide that should matter. Not a person by the name of Voreqe Bainimarama. As it is, he has no legitimacy.”

Rajendra Chaudhry questions who is Commodore Bainimarama to set the guidelines and parameters for the new constitution.

“He cannot be making these pre-emptory statements to try and influence which I do not think will be successful for the commission to think the way he thinks and similarly on the issues of the non-negotiable principles. It is not for Bainimarama to lay down the guidelines for constitution review and if the views of the people in great majority say there should not be any non-negotiable principles then that is something I’m sure the commission will give due consideration. At the same time while you may not agree with what other submittees are saying, you must respect their right to say what they are saying. It is a basic right.”

Commodore Bainimarama said the non-negotiables for the constitution are important because it is aimed at eliminating discrimination and race based policies.

“He has forgotten very quickly that in 2000, him and his father were put in one of the rooms in parliament for 56 days. The non-negotiables we trying to put into the next constitution is to bring about an environment that will stop him and his father from being put in the cell again as it was done in 2000, not that his father is going to come back into leadership position of this country, God forbid. But one of the reasons why he is attacking the non-negotiables, we know that the Labour like SDL don’t want one man one vote one value. They don’t want that. They want the communal voting still in place. In fact they want the 1997 constitution brought back, in fact they want us to go back to the judgement of 2009 and for us to go back to the SDL and Labour in government.”

The non-negotiable principles include a common and equal citizenry, a secular state where there is no official religion and no religion will be given preference by the state, elimination of discrimination, one person one vote one value, the elimination of ethnic voting, social justice and the removal of systematic corruption.

Meanwhile, on the issue raised on who is Commodore Bainimarama to set the parameters for the new constitution, the Prime Minister had this to say.

“So who should be setting the parameters for the process. Him and his father?”

Stay with us we will have more on this issue.

Story by: Vijay Narayan & Ronal Deo

Commodore Bainimarama scared of other opinions being expressed in private to Professor Ghai. ………..The Prime Minister said he knows there have been a number of private meetings with certain individuals.

There are no restrictions, do your job – PM

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has today revealed that he has spoken to the chairman of the Constitutional Commission Professor Yash Ghai a number of times stating that there are no restrictions on people making constitution submissions.

Professor Ghai has said that certain laws should be reviewed if they are not conducive to a free environment.

He said any restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of the assembly and media freedom should be removed.

He also said it is not fair for the government to criticize any submissions from anyone including political parties and NGOs.

Professor Ghai said it should be a free process and every Fijian must be heard.

Professor Ghai said the laws need to be reviewed to ensure that there is a truly inclusive process.

Commodore Bainimarama said Professor Ghai knows there are no restrictions on submissions in the constitutional process.

“I’ve said that the commissioners need to get on with the job. They have a mandate from the people of Fiji. They should listen to the views of Fijians, collate the submissions and draft the constitution based on the submissions along the relevant decree and hand the draft constitution to His Excellency the President. They should get on with the job. The comments by the Chair are unfortunately misplaced. None of the laws. He has been told that time and again and the people of Fiji have heard about this. None of the laws currently in place stop any Fijian or hinder any Fijian from making any submission to the commission on any topic.”

Commodore Bainimarama also said it is clear that some people are trying to take over the process.

“What is happening is like a proverbial camel. They come in with their head into the tent and then their whole body comes in and they kick the owner of the tent out. That’s what him and the people they are listening to are trying to do. They are trying to get us back, bring back the old statements that they have been going on with for the last couple of months. The statement by the Chair also demonstrates the lack of fundamental understanding of our history, the influences at play that have for so long protected the elite of this country. On the contrary, the current laws provide for the safeguard of these unheard voices who have been marginalized to come forward and contribute.”

Commodore Bainimarama said Professor Ghai should know that the commission should be truly independent in its work.

“Comments that he is coming up with, I’ve heard that from people like Mick Beddoes, Shamima Ali and the trade unionists. I’d like to remind the Chair and the commission that at the swearing-in ceremony, the Chief Justice reminded the commissioners that they hold a quasi judicial position. This means amongst other things the commissioners should not be giving a running commentary on the proceedings. They should be completely independent. They should not give preferential treatment to certain segments or individuals in society who they meet privately and they should adhere to the laws in Fiji including the decrees that created the commission.”

The Prime Minister said he knows there have been a number of private meetings with certain individuals.

“They have been meeting privately with this group of politicians, NGOs and trade unionists who are pressuring him to come up with this statement and he should get away from that. I’ve told him a few times that he should get away from these private meetings. If they have anything to give to him in submissions, give it in the constitutional commission setting, not in private settings. That is the problem that we have here. He is pressured by these NGOs and politicians. These are the same group of people that want to have a hand in the composition of the Constituent Assembly so that they can pressure him into doing this and to changing what they want done and in the Constituent Assembly, have it cemented before they move into elections.”

Commodore Bainimarama stressed that he will not let these people having private meetings influence what is supposed to be done.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Prof.Ghai needs to remember the constitution he is making is NOT the private property of the interim Prime Minister.

editor, Constitution commission chair Prof.Yash Ghai met with [interim]prime minister commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and “updated him on the consultations” and he informs us “but we also discussed some issues which I don’t think should be revealed” (Fiji Times 14/8).
Why not? What were these other issues that were discussed? They are not classified information, are they? Why the secrecy?
Prof.Ghai needs to remember the constitution he is making is NOT the private property of the interim Prime Minister. The country’s constitution always belongs to the people of the country. The people therefore have the right to know what all have gone into its making.
That is the democratic way of constitution making.
Rajend Naidu

“People say they are afraid”………Professor Yash Ghai

Low Indo-Fijian turn-out: Ghai

07:14 Today


Professor Yash Ghai

Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Vosita Kotoiwasawasa

Indo-Fijians are being urged by the Constitution Commission to come out in numbers to make submissions for the new constitution.

Commission chair- Professor Yash Ghai has raised concern on the lack of submission filed so far by the Indo-Fijian community.

Ghai believes that many haven’t come forward for fear of repercussions.

“People say they are afraid. There are too many decrees which inhibit speech and they are afraid that they might be saying things that they might be prosecuted for. But the decree actually says that any statements made to us whether in writing or orally is protected against any legal, criminal or civil proceedings.”

He stresses the need for all Fijians of every ethnic background to come forward and help shape the constitution.

The Commission will sit at the Nadera Catholic hall on Thursday.

PM says Constituent Assembly will be made up of credible people …“tell Shamima Ali from me she is not in that league”…..Women’s Crisis Centre excluded from Constituent Assembly in snap decision by the Dictator.

Stop feeling important says PM

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and FemLink Pacific are claiming that the opinions of the state’s critics are not being aired by the media and questions why the restrictions on meetings have only been opened up during the constitution consultation process.

The three NGOs say an example is Fiji Television Limited whose licence expired after 12 years and it has only been given a six month licence on renewal.

The NGOs say this looks like a “good behaviour bond” for Fiji TV.

They say there must be a strong statement from the Prime Minister which guarantees freedom to the media, including the right to criticise the government and publish others’ criticisms of the government.

They also say that some of the non-negotiable principles are matters for the people to decide, not for the state to dictate. They say they may agree with the state about the way in which people should vote and the voting age however they say people who disagree with this should be heard and their views taken into account.

Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator, Shamima Ali said they do not think it is right for the Prime Minister to appoint the members of the Constituent Assembly and wants to know how the selection process will be carried out.

They also say that the state should not have any control of the process.

When questioned on the issues raised by the three NGOs, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the tone of the statement by the NGOs indicate that they feel they are very important.

But he said they are not if they do not contribute positively to have a better Fiji for all citizens.

He said the constitution process is not for grandstanding.

Commodore Bainimarama said the Constituent Assembly will be made up of credible people who think positively about Fiji’s future and he said and I quote “tell Shamima Ali from me she is not in that league” end quote.

Ali said it is her right to raise these concerns.

Story by: Vijay Narayan & Gwen McGoon

Political Police to monitor Methodist Church in Fiji meetings……………..Police commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua, has warned there may be a police presence to ensure attendees do not stray off topic from a pre-approved agenda.

Fiji Government lifts ban on Methodists meeting

Updated 14 August 2012, 8:33 AEST

The Methodist Church in Fiji will finally hold its annual congregation after a four-year ban was lifted by the country’s interim government.

While the church has now been given permission to hold the ecclesiastical meeting, several restrictions are still in place.

The assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program the restrictions include a warning not to discuss political issues.

Reverend Nawadra says politics will be difficult to avoid, particularly as the church’s interpretations are not always the same as the military regime’s.

“The meaning of politics for us is to work for the poor and to uplift the standards of life and to talk to government on that line,” he said.

“We cannot do any other thing because that is what we are required for according to our faith.”

While he says he’s grateful for being able to hold the meeting, Reverend Nawadra says limiting it to just just three days does not allow enough time for everyone to have their say, especially after four years of silence.

“The business that has been heaping up has gotten a little too big for three days,” he said.

Meanwhile, police commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua, has warned there may be a police presence to ensure attendees do not stray off topic from a pre-approved agenda.

Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the police statement lodged against him in Lautoka last month has been withdrawn.

Fiji regime leader says police complaint against him is withdrawn

Posted at 07:16 on 10 August, 2012 UTC

Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the police statement lodged against him in Lautoka last month has been withdrawn.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress leader, Felix Anthony, reported Commodore Bainimarama for making threats and military officers for assault which damaged his eardrum and forced him to get medical care.

When his complaint became public this week, the information ministry said the police had received no complaint against the regime leader.

After Mr Anthony re-stated that he filed a report, the ministry called on him to provide medical reports because police could not act on hearsay.

Mr Anthony says he has difficulty getting the doctor’s reports released, but Commodore Bainimarama has now told Auckland-based Radio Tarana that wrong statements are being reported.

“He has withdrawn that statement. He keeps saying that the media keeps coming up with the wrong statement.”

Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

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She says if the government takes offence at coverage of a story there are immediate phone calls to the offending journalist.

Fiji NGO call on regime to ease pressure on media

Posted at 01:10 on 10 August, 2012 UTC

The spokesperson for a Fiji non-government organisation says the interim government must ease pressure on the media to ensure the constitution consultations work properly.

Several NGOs say the process is being undermined by the continuing media constraints.

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s Shamima Ali says there is self-censorship and journalists need to show more spine but she says it is common knowledge the media operates under pressure from the regime.

She says if the government takes offence at coverage of a story there are immediate phone calls to the offending journalist.

“So we are getting regular reports of that, so that needs to be removed. The state, when it talks about a free environment people should not fear then it should start acting in that way also, to remove that fear from reporters and journalists.”

Shamima Ali.

The NGOs says the interim regime’s non-negotiable principles and its demand for immunity must go if the consultations are to succeed.

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FijiVillage says “No complaint against Frank” Radio NZ says “Yes”…Police have now declined to comment.

Fiji unionist confirms naming regime leader in police complaint

Posted at 03:19 on 07 August, 2012 UTC

Fiji Trades Union Congress leader Felix Anthony has rejected the interim government’s claim that he did not file a complaint with police against the leader of the Fiji regime.

The Permanent Secretary of Information, Sharon Smith-Johns, says Mr Anthony has reported some members of the military but neither the Prime Minister nor the Fijian government was included in the complaint.

Mr Anthony says he detailed last month to the Lautoka Police threats and assaults against him by military officers in February last year.

He says he was punched and kicked by at least five soldiers, leaving him with a damaged eardrum and bruising that needed medical care.

He said he finally made the report after eighteen months after being urged to do so by authorities.

“The nature of the complaint was that I was assaulted by some military officers. The second part of the complaint was that the threat was made by the Prime Minister to me and my colleague. I actually named the Prime Minister and I quoted what he had actually said.”

Mr Anthony says he was given a case number and medical forms to fill in.

He said he was told police will start investigating and they would keep him informed.

Police have now declined to comment.

In April, the military denied the allegations, with its spokesman saying if the complainants can give proof of an assault, it should be to the police.

The Information Ministry said at the time it couldn’t make any comments regarding the military.

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I didn’t complain about the PM-Anthony


Fiji Time: 13:18, Tuesday 7th Aug 2012 members of the military and not against Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama or the Fijian government.

“These reports are inaccurate and mischievous with the aim of promoting personal agendas,” said Smith-Johns. “This is just another veiled attempt to take cheap shots at the RFMF,” she said.

Govt denies report against Bainimarama

August 07, 2012 08:57:59 AM

There is no police report against Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama or the government, says Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary Sharon Smith-Johns.

Smith-Johns was responding to an international media report stating that Fiji Trades Union Congress leader Felix Anthony had filed a police report against Bainimarama last month.

Anthony alleges that military officers including Bainimarama threatened and assaulted him and his colleagues.

He claimed that he was punched and kicked by at least five soldiers, leaving him with a damaged eardrum and bruising.

“These reports are inaccurate and mischievous with the aim of promoting personal agendas,” said Smith-Johns.

Smith-Johns said a complaint was filed against some members of the military and not against Bainimarama or the government.

She said the allegations by Anthony were reported following Bainimarama’s visit to the Rarawai Sugar Mill last year and the alleged case dates back to February 2011.

She said the move begs the question as to why it has taken Anthony 18 months to file a police report.

“This is just another veiled attempt to take cheap shots at the RFMF,” she said.

“The delay in investigations is on the part of Anthony because he has been deferring the submission of his statement.”

“Until there is a full investigation into the matter this are simply allegations. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this incident occurred and therefore, it should be left in the hands of the Fiji police to investigate.”

“It is also, therefore, premature and absolutely mischievous for the media to report on the incident without getting the facts. I expect Radio New Zealand International to issue a correction.”

By Mereani Gonedua