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Friday, April 17, 2009

Getting written out of credibility as a nation - Fiji dies one step at a time...

Australia's journalists' union says Fijian authorities are acting outside the law with the introduction of tough new media regulations.

ABC correspondent Sean Dorney is being deported from Fiji today after authorities objected to his coverage of the recent political and constitutional turmoil.

Journalists have been told not to publish or broadcast stories that present the reinstatement of the military government in a negative light, and police censors have been installed in newsrooms across Suva.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) federal secretary Chris Warren has criticised the Fijian government for the introduction of the new censorship laws.

Mr Warren says the censorship is a very serious step.

"Fiji has now become the most repressive country, in terms of press freedom, in the region, and indeed is on the road to becoming one of the worst in the world," he said.

"Installing military fences inside newsrooms is one of the worst measures we've seen around the world.

"That sort of pre-publication censorship is a very serious step."

He also says the situation for the media in Fiji will get worse.

"Fijian courts were quite clear about what needed to occur," he said.

"The Fijian authorities are ignoring the laws, and ignoring the impact of the laws.

"That's very serious, because once they start down that road there's no clear point at which they're likely to stop."

'It's got to behave'

And Fiji's interim government is facing serious punishment, according to the special representative of the Commonwealth secretary-general to Fiji.

Sir Paul Reeves, who is also the former New Zealand governor-general, says the military regime's crackdown on journalists is a disgrace.

He says Fiji could be kicked out of the Commonwealth.

"Fiji's got to stay an international player, it can't just flout things," he said.

"Face it, it's a small nation in a vast sea, it's got to realise that it depends on other people - it can't exist on by itself, it needs an international context, it's got to behave."

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