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Tribunal would hear complaints, impose fines

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 18, 2008) – The Cabinet has endorsed the formulation of a law to regulate the Fiji media.

This came following a submission by the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

[PIR editor’s note: Opposition has been voiced since 2006 over the need of a free media. However, recent events have hindered such a directive.]

A Cabinet statement said this means that all existing laws pertaining to the media vis-à-vis the Constitution and the Public Order Act, and the Media Code of Ethics and professional standards will be incorporated into a separate Media Promulgation.

Bainimarama explained that currently, all laws pertaining to the media, its freedoms and restrictions and professional standards and Code of Ethics, need to be consolidated.

"Incorporating these existing provisions into one statute would inter alia ensure easy access, understanding, transparency, and reduce anomalies," he said.

He further stated that the proposed Promulgation would also establish an independent tribunal to hear appeals on complaints lodged with the Media Council.

"The Tribunal is to be headed by an independent judge who shall be appointed by the Judicial Services Commission.

"It is envisaged that the independent tribunal will also have the ability to impose fines on companies, editors and publishers should they be found to be in breach of the provisions of the proposed promulgation".

The Prime Minister said that the Media Council and other stakeholders shall also be consulted in the formulation of the promulgation before it is taken to Cabinet for approval.

"It is proposed that the Tribunal should have the ability to also award compensation to aggrieved complainants."

The Media Council is not happy with this recent development.

According to the statement, Bainimarama has assured that the media must remain free within the existing confines of the law and not controlled by Government.


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