12 Aug 2014

Fiji groups accuse media of inconsistency

8:46 pm on 12 August 2014

NGOs in Fiji say the media are not following the government's decrees consistently.

Following comments from the former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, that there will not be true equality in Fiji and the country should make Christianity the official religion, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama said the NGOs were "cowards" for not speaking out.

But Shamima Ali, the chair of the Fiji NGO Coalition for Human Rights, says it's section 115 of the electoral decree that silences them.

She says the media are forced to provide balance by publishing the government's responses to NGO statements, but when the government makes a claim, they are not afforded the same treatment.

"I wrote to the writer, the person who had the byline, immediately, emailed her and said where is the balance, can you please take a response from us, and there has been no response, our press release yesterday has not been published in any of the local media."

Shamima Ali says government intimidation has silenced many NGOs, including the Citizens Constitutional Forum, which has cancelled its pre-election workshops.