12 Aug 2013

Amnesty fears "chilling" effect of latest Fiji contempt ruling

3:08 pm on 12 August 2013

Amnesty International says the contempt of court conviction given to a prominent Fiji civil society group is chilling and a setback to freedom of expression in the country.

The head of the Citizens' Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, has been given a three month suspended jail sentence following CCF's reprinting of an overseas report on Fiji's judiciary.

Amnesty is calling for the case to be dropped on appeal.

The watchdog says international human rights law protects the freedom to make comments regarded as critical of government institutions including the judiciary.

Amnesty's Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze says the case follows a pattern of attacks on freedom of expression and on human rights defenders in Fiji.

"They have been pulling back for some time and this is just a further incident which is going to creat a climate of fear and people will be afraid of speaking out therefore they will self-censor."

Kate Schuetze says the case was also an attack on Fiji people's right to freedom of information.