25 May 2004

Fiji's Immigration Department defends a ban on NZ television journalist

8:28 am on 25 May 2004

Fiji's Immigration Department has defended a ban on New Zealand television journalist, Jeff Hampton, and maintains he will remain a prohibited person in the country.

Mr Hampton was deported when he arrived at Nadi Airport for a holiday on Sunday, but his family was allowed to stay.

Fiji TV reports that the story responsible for the ban on Mr Hampton was about gunmen terrorising an Indian community near Labasa a short time after the coup.

A complaint about the report was partially upheld by New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Fiji's High commissioner in New Zealand, Bal Ram, told the Dominion Post that Mr Hampton had used old footage from a military exercise and claimed it showed the Fijian military threatening ethnic Indians.

Fiji TV quotes Fiji's director of immigration, Joe Browne, as saying the Home Affairs Ministry put Mr Hampton on the blacklist of people prohibited entry into the country after the report.

New Zealand's foreign affairs minister, Phil Goff, says he does not know why that should lead to the denial of a visa.

Mr Goff says this appears to be an issue of media freedom and he has asked the New Zealand high commissioner in Suva to raise his concerns with the Fiji government and reconsider the matter