2 Apr 2014

Fiji Electoral Decree provision intended to frighten public - academic

3:39 pm on 2 April 2014

A Fiji academic says a provision in the Electoral Decree which restricts people from expressing political opinions two days before the election is intended to strike fear into the public.

Section 63 says any person is prohibited from communicating political messages by telephone, internet, email, social media or other electronic means 48 hours before the election.

Violating the decree can result in up to 10 years in jail and a 27,000 US dollar fine.

Professor Wadan Narsey says the Bainimarama government has been successful in controlling the media in Fiji, but cannot control people expressing opinions on social media.

"My goodness, how are they going to monitor it? This is electronic surveillance - are they being authorised by this decree to conduct electronic surveillance on our citizens and to influence what they do and say to other people, their friends, their relatives or anybody? I mean the whole thing is quite frightening in this sense."

Professor Wadan Narsey says the clause is not a result of careless drafting, as others have suggested.