Monday, November 02, 2009

Fiji AG self -destructs on media freedom: PFF

Fiji's Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has erased his own credibility with 'delusional' notions that Fiji has a free media, says regional media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum.

According to media reports, Khaiyum told a regional journalism seminar at the University of the South Pacific on Friday 31st October Fiji's media were free to report on any issue, asking  “Is there a

restriction? Are journalists being locked up? Are journalists being told what to write? No!"

But in the same presentation on the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) introduced in April 2009, he admitted the "fundamental issue as far as the media control at the moment is concerned is that you do not have politicians being reported."

"The fact that his monologue went unchallenged by his audience only proves that self-censorship is thriving under the PER. An AG who claims journalists have not been restricted, locked up, or told what

to write is clearly deluded and out of touch with reality," says PFF Chair Susuve Lauamaea of PNG.

The latest global media freedom index compiled by global watchdog Reporters Sans Frontiers has Fiji ranked 152 out of 175 nations. In 2008, Fiji ranked 79th.

"We can only stand in solidarity and sympathy for those who organised the debate, and offer our input and engagement to help build

understanding amongst the regime leadership that the right to freedom of expression and speech has specific universal indicators which can't be mucked around with."

"The Pacific Freedom Forum and our networks warmly congratulate Fiji Times, for their  award winning free speech campaign as announced on Friday night in Australia," says co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.

"The irony for us all is that only a few hours before this cause for celebration, the regime AG in Fiji went public saying the media is free to report anything - so long as they don't report on the leadership. In saying that, he proved so powerfully why Fiji Times deserve the award, and our continued support."


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