If anyone is wondering why the Fijian media hasn’t reported the details of my reporting of the Prime Minister’s secret role in the sacking of the Solicitor General, his alleged action in shutting down a police drug investigation into a close family member or his Attorney General’s alleged behaviour in inviting his female staff to give him massages in his hotel rooms on overseas trips, it’s because they are terrified of the AG’s draconian 2010 Media Decree and the very real prospect of prosecution.
The following is what can happen to any Fijian media outlet that Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum decides has breached the terms of the decree, which became legislation on the return to parliamentary rule in 2014 and has had the effect of gagging the media and preventing it from reporting stories that are genuinely in the national interest.
As you can see, the national interest is not defined in the legislation, which means the AG effectively decides what is in the national interest. And if he thinks that it is not in the national interest for allegations against him and the PM to be aired in the local media, then he can use the law against any organisation that republishes my disclosures. Fortunately, I am beyond his reach but these stories go untold for anyone without the Internet.
[MED 22] CONTENT REGULATION:
The content of any media service must not include material which—
- (a)is against the public interest or order;
- (b)is against national interest; or
- (c)creates communal discord.
[MED 24] OFFENCES RELATING TO CONTENT REGULATION:
A breach of any of the provisions in or under sections 22… by a media organisation shall constitute an offence and the media organisation shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or in the case of a publisher or editor to a fine not exceeding $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
The details of what I reported are in the previous article – Secrets and Skeletons. The Inside Story. But how tragic it is that accessing the work of journalists outside Fiji is the only way the Fijian people can gain information on anything remotely approaching the truth about what is really happening in their country.