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Law amendment lifting fines on journalists "rare step in the right direction for Fiji"

File photo by REUTERS/David Gray

This statement was originally published on pacificfreedomforum.org on 16 July 2015.

Publishers, editors and media companies should be added to law amendments lifting criminal fines from journalists, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"We welcome the law amendment removing fines from journalists as a sign that Fiji is finally turning back towards a free media environment," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

"This lives up to a 2010 roadmap to democracy outlining the need for legal reforms to build media freedoms."

The law amendment to lift fines on journalists - but not publishers and editors - is a rare step in the right direction for Fiji, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

PFF joins the Fiji Media Association in welcoming the amendment and calling for more law changes.

PFF Co Chair Monica Miller says that media colleagues outside of Fiji are all too used to bad news from the regional centre.

"This marks a great change from decades of disappointment under a persistent coup culture."

"The government is obviously treating its strong mandate as encouragement to allow greater freedoms, and we support more law reform in that direction."

Miller said there was still a long way to go before the Fiji government lived up to expectations for a free and independent news media.

Publishers and editors decided what went into print and on the airwaves, not journalists, she says.

Retention of criminal fines for publishers and editors means there may be little change from a coup culture of self-censorship, says Miller.

A lack of accountability leaves Fiji vulnerable to continued corruption and instability.

As well as lift fines from journalists, the act also opens up pay TV to foreign ownership, provided it does not show ads from foreign governments, or non-governmental organisations and other agencies.

A Bill For An Act To Amend The Media Industry Development Decree 2010
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/getattachment/Parliament-Business/Bills/Bill-No-15-Media-Industry-Development-(Amendment)-(1).pdf.aspx

MIDA expects changes in reporting
http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/31212/mida-expects-changes-in-reporting

Restrictive media practices
http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=313717

Fiji media decree amendment may mean more freedom
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/278601/fiji-media-decree-amendment-may-mean-more-freedom

FMA welcomes lifting of fines on journalists
http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/31073/fma-welcomes-lifting-of-fines-on-journalists

Fijian Media Association welcomes lifting of fines for journalists
http://www.loopfiji.com/content/fijian-media-association-welcomes-lifting-fines-journalists

Fiji 2010 roadmap to democracy
http://www.fiji.gov.fj/getattachment/Govt--Publications/Peoples-Charter/RSSED.pdf.aspx

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