29 Dec 2010

Fiji emergency rule persists despite media decree

7:37 am on 29 December 2010

It is now six months since Fiji's interim government imposed the media decree which the military regime said would result in the lifting of emergency regulations.

The regime describes the decree as a tool to bring about transparency, accountability and good governance.

But it has received widespread criticism.

Philippa Tolley reports:

"At the time the decree was promulgated the permanent secretary for information, Sharon Smith-Johns, insisted guidelines were needed as hidden agendas and deliberate distortions in media reporting could do untold damage to a nation. The Interim Attorney General had said the new controls would remove much of the need for the emergency regulations, introduced after the regime abrogated the constitution, and that they would be lifted within three months. Amnesty says the regulations are being used to deny the people of Fiji their right to express their views freely about matters that impact on their lives. Fiji's Law Society has also argued against the emergency rules saying the restrictions on public assembly have affected its ability to hold an AGM. But a Fiji academic at the University of Auckland, Dr Steven Ratuva said when the media decree came in that he doubted the emergency regulations would be lifted any time soon as they provide an effective extra layer of control."