Graham Davis: Fiji’s draconian media law and a gag on truth

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Grubsheet Feejee
The Graham Davis article "Secrets and Skeletons" ... why silence remains in the Fiji news media. Image: Grubsheet Feejee screenshot APR

COMMENT: By Graham Davis

If anyone is wondering why the Fijian media hasn’t reported the details of my reporting on Grubsheet Feejee of the Prime Minister’s secret role in the sacking of the Solicitor-General, his alleged action in shutting down a police drug investigation into a close family member, or his Attorney-General’s alleged behaviour in inviting his female staff to give him massages in his hotel rooms on overseas trips, it is because they are terrified of the AG’s draconian 2010 Media Industry Development Decree and the very real prospect of prosecution.

Fiji's Media Decree
Fiji’s Media Decree and now law since 2014 … a gag on reports of national interest. Image: GS

The following is what can happen to any Fijian news media outlet that Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum decides has breached the terms of the decree, which became legislation on the return to parliamentary rule in 2014 and has had the effect of gagging the media and preventing it from reporting stories that are genuinely in the national interest.

As you can see, the national interest is not defined in the legislation, which means the AG effectively decides what is in the national interest.

And if he thinks that it is not in the national interest for allegations against him and the PM to be aired in the local media, then he can use the law against any organisation that republishes my disclosures.

Fortunately, I am beyond his reach but these stories go untold for anyone without the internet.

[MED 22] CONTENT REGULATION:

The content of any media service must not include material which—

(a)is against the public interest or order;
(b)is against national interest; or
(c)creates communal discord.

[MED 24] OFFENCES RELATING TO CONTENT REGULATION:

A breach of any of the provisions in or under section 22 … by a media organisation shall constitute an offence and the media organisation shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or in the case of a publisher or editor to a fine not exceeding $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.

The details of what I reported are in my Secrets and Skeletons: The Inside Story.

But how tragic it is that accessing the work of journalists outside Fiji is the only way the Fijian people can gain information on anything remotely approaching the truth about what is really happening in their country.

Republished with permission.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hmmm… thank you Grubsheet for exposing these goings on. I do not support any particular ideology, but realize that the kind of artful dodging and sophistry that the Fiji First party engages in will naturally make people very inquisitive once these little tit-bits are exposed. You have generally summarized a situation reflective of an administration that has reached its use-by date and is, like the Roman empire, being eviscerated by its own moral degradation. I do expect that Aiyaz Khaiyum and his fellow opinion shapers will have an answer to these allegations, given that they are quite damning.

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