PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS -- Fiji's journalists are being warned to steer clear of the latest
media-related decree and stick to ethical standards to guide
their reporting of regime speeches and statements.
The warning comes
in the wake of the country's new state proceedings decree, which grants
Fiji's regime leader and his ministers exemption from defamation suits over
anything they may say in public or private.
Signed off on January 19th by the
nation's President, the regime issued a statement this week claiming the decree will strengthen
public discussion and consultation in the lead-up to planned elections in
"Defamation and libel restrictions are a cornerstone of
journalism ethics training and the practice applies whether a country
has defamation laws or not. A leadership which protects itself but not
people from defamation suits cannot expect that to be welcome news.
We urge and support our colleagues in Fiji to apply caution
in interpreting this decree, and to resist any confusion with parliamentary privilege which is only applied by democratically elected leaders, only in their official capacity, and only from the Parliament floor," says PFF chair Titi Gabi from Papua New
"Of all the decrees introduced by the regime this is the most
blatant in its elitist protection of the regime leader and his ministers.
The claim it will foster and open public debate because the media won't
be facing defamation lawsuits over any stories quoting the
regime leadership is a farce. Along with the Media Decree, this one should
be immediately revoked."
"The best way to open public debate towards meaningful progress is to ensure the right to speak and be heard, to ask questions and to challenge ideas and policies, is to ensure everyone involved is able to openly do so. " says PFF co-chair
Monica Miller from American Samoa.
"This is yet another regime decree
which adds to the current Media and other decrees shaping what is expressed
in public and who says it. We stand by those media colleagues in Fiji who
will strive in difficult times to uphold ethical standards, especially as
they seek balance and right of reply from individuals and groups who may
soon bear the brunt of the latest edict", she says.--ENDS
Decree announced: http://fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=0802129451fb595af42a6c83cc7e4e
Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea
Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
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