Pacific Media Watch

12 May 2016

FIJI: Journalists can be critical of government policies, says MIDA

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MIDA Chairman Ashwin Raj at a previous press conference in Suva. Image: Atu Rasea/ Fiji Times

Peni Mudunavonu
SUVA (The Fiji Times/ Pacific Media Watch): Freedom of journalists and the relationships between the rights and limitations must be interpreted in accordance with democratic values as well as international laws, says the chief of Fiji's media watchdog.

The Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) chairman Ashwin Raj said the Bill of Rights was a strong testament to the fact that freedom of the press entailed much more than freedom of journalists, editors and proprietors.

"These limitations are not peculiar to the current Constitution, but the 1997 Constitution had similar provisions," Raj said.

"These justifiable limitations are also consistent with the recommendations of the international convention also, on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and combating racist hate speech.

"It reminds us of justifiable limitations to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals," he said.

Raj said the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 and the Constitution guaranteed the freedom of the press and that the Constitution also protected the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

"The media is free to publish material including those that are critical of government policies and this is evidenced in the opinion pieces and letters to the editors that are published in our dailies. Also the Media Industry Development Decree has been reviewed, removing fines and penalties imposed on individual journalists," he said.

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