AUCKLAND (PEN NZ/Pacific Media Watch): PEN NZ condemns the continuing ban by the Fiji government of Television New Zealand Pacific Affairs correspondent Barbara Dreaver
PEN views the continuation of this ban as an indication of the ongoing erosion of freedom of expression in the Pacific.
New Zealand currently ranks 5th in the world in the latest World Press Freedom Index. This is well ahead of Australia, which ranks 25th out of 180 countries.
New Zealand should take its place as leader in the Pacific on the World Press Freedom Index to make a clear stance in favour of Barbara Dreaver and the other journalists currently banned from Fiji.
In the last year there has been a marked erosion worldwide in freedom of expression.
Freedom of Expression is a right guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 19 states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression". PEN NZ notes that this right includes the freedom to "seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
Dreaver is on a "blacklist" of journalists banned from Fiji. In 2008, Dreaver was taken into custody after arriving in Fiji, detained overnight, and refused access to assistance from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affair and Trade.
Following her detention she was deported back to New Zealand.
For the past eight years she has been banned by the post-coup Fiji government, led by former military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama (who was elected Prime Minister in September 2014), from entering the country, except for a one hour special dispensation to transit through Nadi International Airport.
Dreaver is the TVNZ’s Pacific Correspondent. NZ Prime Minister John Key described Barbara Dreaver as a "significant voice" of the Pacific. Other journalists also banned from Fiji include former Fairfax reporter Michael Field and Australian journalist Sean Dorney.
Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has stated he will not be lifting the ban which he sees as necessary to prevent the "wilful propagation of false information."
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