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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Forum Fears Increased Self-Censorship In Fiji
Pacific Freedom Forum cites Fiji Times case, parties decree

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 21, 2013) – Media watchdog the Pacific Freedom Forum says Fiji’s media has suffered a double whammy this week.

Forum Chair Titi Gabi says the tightening of a decree threatening up to five years jail time for mentioning defunct political parties and a hefty High Court sentence imposed on the Fiji Times newspaper, send a worrying message to journalists.

She says everyone is interested in the 2014 election with people both inside and outside of Fiji wanting reliable information and covering political stories is part of the job.

She also says she would encourage the Fiji’s interim government to use the Fiji Times’ established complaints procedure if there are stories published they don’t like.

Titi Gabi says the combination of the two actions is likely to frighten journalists into self censorship.

"What we fear is that the reporters and media organizations in Fiji will now just go back to censoring themselves heavily. And it starts with reporters, they go out and do jobs and they say to themselves ’No, I can’t touch this, I might end up like that,’ and that’s what we’re fearing. Heading towards elections, you want to really promote a free a fair election, and that’s going to happen only through the media. And if this is how it’s starting, that is a worry."

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