8 Mar 2007

Fiji's Media Council condemns ongoing abuses by military - weblog authors sought

2:46 pm on 8 March 2007

Fiji's Media Council has condemned on-going abuses by the military of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.

The council's chairman Daryl Tarte, says journalists had been intimidated by the military to the point that they did not feel safe to write and publish reports that correctly reflected the true situation in Fiji.

The Fiji Times reports that the council saying it is unacceptable for senior newspaper officials to be taken in for questioning by the military.

It also says in most cases by-lines are now not used and thus journalists are being denied the freedom that is expressly provided in the Bill of Rights.

The media council called on the military to use its official complaint procedure if it believed there had been any breach of the media's code of Ethics and Practice.

It says there is a well-established procedure for members of the public, and this includes the military, for making official complaints about any breach of the code.

The council also welcomed the statement by interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, that he condemned violence and force and said it hoped he would ensure that military officers conducted themselves in an orderly and humane manner.

Meanwhile, the Fiji military is reported to be hunting for the people behind the webblog, Intellegentsiya, for publishing an article which alleged a man died in the northern division after being beaten by soldiers.

The army spokesperson, Major Neumi Leweni, told the Fiji Village news website that it was a serious concern that the authors of the article and the owners of the weblog continued to publish stories without seeking clarification on the matter.

Major Leweni says those responsible are trying to discredit the military by posting such stories on the internet.

He told FijiVillage they're closely monitoring the weblog, that they have a fair idea who's behind it and would get to them eventually.

It has also been confirmed that the military has lodged a complaint with the police over the weblog.