Police officers raided the newsrooms of several publications in Fiji on Saturday to censor current and past news reporting, BNO News has learned. The move comes just hours after the president imposed an emergency rule which limits freedom of speech and
gave police expanded powers.
Police officers [are] here at our newsroom, checking what we have reported and what we [are] yet to report on, a journalist for a publication in Fiji told BNO News on Saturday: Police officers in Fiji have been dispatched in teams to various
local newsrooms to censor items that have been published and yet to be published, particularly by newspapers.
A local television [station] got two news items pulled out of their news segment, a local newspaper we understand had 56 pulled out, the journalist said. The emergency regulation decree, which was announced by President Iloilo on Saturday, states,
among other rules, that media organizations must submit any material to the government before it is allowed to be published.
One of the last foreign journalists left in Fiji is facing deportation as the military regime there tightens its control. Australian Broadcasting Corporation Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney told Stuff that he had been called to the Ministry of
Information and told they did not like his reporting. He was asked to voluntarily leave Suva but declined, saying he had a valid visa.
He returned to his hotel and while he was talking to Stuff he received a phone call from the Ministry asking him report to them: I've no idea what they're doing now, it looks like deportation .
Dorney believes he is being deported because he reported on how the local media responded to the censorship. Fiji TV has refused to air a censored bulletin and newspaper the Fiji Times has run blanks where stories had been censored.
The authorities called in Fiji Sun publisher Peter Lomas and senior journalist Maika Bolatiki. It is believed the meeting was to do with the newspaper's extraordinary front page statement, We ban politics in which Lomas announced that the paper would no
longer publish political stories of any kind.
The Fiji Times has also refused to publish any political stories, and the national television station Fiji One has reportedly done the same.
Three senior News Ltd executives were also summoned to the information ministry - managing director Anne Fussell, editor-in-chief Netani Rika and company lawyer Richard Naidu - to explain why the papers ran blanks on their pages (to show that stories
have been spiked due to censorship).
Two journalists have been released after spending two nights in police cells when they reported how the Fiji military dictatorship had freed soldiers jailed for killing civilians.
Dionisia Turagabeci and Shelvin Chand, of the website Fijilive, were released on Monday, Radio New Zealand has reported. It is likely the two journalists will be taken before the Magistrates Court and charged with breaking the emergency regulations.
Earlier this year a soldier was convicted of murdering a civilian. In a separate case nine soldiers and three policemen were convicted of the manslaughter of a civilian. They were sent to jail for terms ranging from eight years to life, but last week all
were released on parole. They had been convicted of manslaughter after graphic evidence of how they tortured 19-year-old Sakiusa Rabaka to death a month after the 2006 coup.
Fijilive reported this on Friday and on Saturday Turagabeci and Chand were picked up and taken to Suva Central Police Station.
Last week military spokesman Neumi Leweni hailed the effect of martial law censorship: The people of Fiji are now experiencing a remarkable change from what used to be highly negative and sensationalised news to a more positive, balanced and
responsible reporting by the media.
Dictator Voreqe Bainimarama imposed martial law on Fiji last month and has extended it another month, imposing censorship on all media.