FIJI TV CHIEF'S WORK PERMIT QUERIED

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* See PMW item 2196.

SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 6, 1999 - Pacific Media Watch/Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The fate of the work permit of Fiji Television's newly appointed chief executive will be decided when the Immigration Department's work permit committee meets this week.

Acting Permanent Secretary for Information Eliki Bomani said a decision of [New Zealander] Kenneth Clark's application for a work permit is expected to be made by the committee this week.

The government is expected to be briefed on whatever decision is reached by the committee.

Mr. Bomani said the ministry had made its stand clear and had put forward the following recommendations to the Immigration Department:

* That a senior and capable Fiji citizen be appointed to act in the position until Fiji TV provides "convincing and compelling" reasons as to why an expatriate is needed; and

* Fiji TV be requested to explain its position as to why there was no understudy in place.

Acting Director of Immigration Navin Prasad said Mr. Clark had been granted a temporary work permit until next week.

A substantive decision on his application for a work permit is yet to be made, Mr. Bomani said.

The government rejected Mr. Clark's application after Fiji TV had announced the appointment before the permit was obtained.

Mr. Bomani said it was against regulations and unlawful.

Mr. Clark, a 59-year-old New Zealander, was one of 60 applicants.

Four locals who had applied for the job were considered inexperienced.

Title -- 2201 FIJI: TV chief's work permit queried Date -- 6 July 1999 Byline -- None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Fiji Times, 6/7/99 Copyright -- FT

Status -- Unabridged

REPORTERS SANS FRONTIÈRES PROTESTS SOLOMON ISLANDS GAG ON FOREIGN MEDIA

* See PMW items 2194, 2195.

Reporters Sans Frontières International Secretary 5, rue Geoffroy Marie 75009 Paris-France Tél: (33) 1 44 83 84 84 Fax: (33) 1 45 23 11 51 E-mail: rsf@rsf.fr Web: http://www.rsf.fr

PRESS FREEDOM ALERT

July 5, 1999

SOLOMON ISLANDS: FOREIGN JOURNALISTS THREATENED WITH JAIL OR EXPULSION

In a letter sent today to Prime Minister B. Ulufa'alu, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) protested at restrictions imposed on local and foreign media and the threat to foreign journalists of arrest or expulsion if their reports on ethnic tensions were "unfair."

RSF said, "It is worried by grounds given for imposing restrictions such as 'causing disaffection with the government' which can be used arbitrarily by the authorities to impose total censorship on the ethnic conflict and can lead to journalists' imprisonment."

RSF urged the Solomon Islands Prime Minister "to remove the restrictions on media reporting on the ethnic tensions in Guadalcanal."

On 2 July, Minister of State Alfred Sasako was quoted as saying "the government is considering banning foreign journalists whose reports on recent unrest are seen as unfair."

The government warned foreign reporters covering ethnic conflict that they could face imprisonment, fines or deportation under state of emergency regulations.

The local news agency Pacnews also reported that the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation was asked to temporarily refrain from reporting details of a peace accord.

On 28 June, the government introduced an Emergency Powers Act restricting media coverage of ethnic unrest which led the national television to stop relaying news reports from Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand International and the BBC for fear of their breaching the restrictions.

Under the emergency law journalists can be jailed for up to two years if they print, broadcast or disseminate any information which triggers violence or is likely to cause racial or communal disharmony.

The restrictions also forbid disseminating material "prejudicial" to the safety or interests of the State, or causing "disaffection" with the government, or "hatred or contempt" of the judicial system or of national security.

The state of emergency follows growing ethnic tensions on the island of Guadalcanal where militants are trying to force out people who originally came from the island of Malaita.

Title -- 2201 SOLOMON IS: RSF protests over gag on foreign media Date -- 6 July 1999 Byline -- None

Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Reporters Sans Frontieres, Paris, 5/7/99 Status -- Unabridged

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