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IFJ urges government to ensure that media is not impeded in reporting on landmark court decision

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 13 October 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Urges Fiji to Allow Fair Reporting on Landmark Court Decision

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges all members of Fiji's interim military government to ensure that the country's media is not impeded in reporting on a controversial High Court decision on October 9 which proclaims Fiji's 2006 military coup to be "not unlawful".

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has warned Fiji's media to be "careful of what they print, air or post", saying they could be held liable for contempt if they publish comments made by ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase last week regarding his dissatisfaction with the court's decision, according to Pacific Media Watch.

Yet again, the IFJ calls on Fiji's interim Government, which was installed after a military coup led by Frank Bainimarama in 2006, to honour its promise in February to ensure "media freedom is secured and guaranteed" as a key aspect of Fiji's return to political and democratic stability.

"Any attempt by Fiji's Government or authorities to coax or threaten the media in regard to reports on the High Court decision is a contradiction of high-level commitments to press freedom and freedom of expression," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"It is imperative that all people in Fiji are able to fulfill their right to access free and independent reporting and public commentary from all sides regarding the court's landmark decision," Park said.

The IFJ encourages all media outlets in Fiji to stand by the principles of independent political reporting to fulfill their duty to report in the public interest and to ensure the public right to know is upheld and protected.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries worldwide.

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