23 Apr 2014

NGO's election debate to avoid Fiji decree breach

3:55 pm on 23 April 2014

The University of the South Pacific in Fiji has cancelled a non government organisation's debate on issues relating to the election because it could be in breach of the Electoral Decree.

Section 115 restricts any group receiving foreign funding from campaigning on election issues, which includes organising debates, panel discussions or publishing information.

A journalism lecturer, Pat Craddock, says the USP will not host Media Watch's panel discussion "Reporting On The Elections Now and After the Elections" as it is likely to be in breach.

He says Media Watch's offer to pay for refreshments may also infringe the decree as it could be seen as a gift from an NGO.

Mr Craddock says the university will put on a replacement event to discuss press freedom.

"It excludes educational organisations such as the USP, so we're going to do it ourselves, because there is no point in putting any NGO under pressure. They can be fined up to 50,000 bucks and they can get 10 years prison or both."

Pat Craddock says Ashwin Raj from the Media Industry Development Authority is a confirmed panelist at USP's event.