22 May 2003

Fiji government minister accuses Fiji media of sexism and racism

10:07 am on 22 May 2003

A Fiji government senator has accused the local media of racism and sexism, as well as cultural, religious, gender, linguistic and political discrimination.

Senator Tomasi Kanailagi, a former president of the Methodist Church, makes the accusations in defending the government's proposed Media Bill which aims to give the state control of the media.

Senator Kanailagi says the mass media cannot be allowed to self-regulate and cannot be judge and jury in complaints against itself.

Further, he says, the present Media Council cannot fine the media and compensate him and his ethnic group when it subjects them to degrading and de-humanising treatment on the grounds of their ethnicity.

Senator Kanailagi says he is concerned about human rights violations by the media through its regular hate speeches in form of sexist and racist cartoons against a segment of the population who make up 52 percent of the population.

He says when the media rejects the proposed laws to protect citizens from media bias, it violates the right of freedom from degradation and de-humanisation on ethnic grounds.

Senator Kanailagi says the government should go ahead with the sacred work of safeguarding the freedom of all people of Fiji and not just the media workers.