MEDIA CENSORSHIP IN FIJI TO END

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Journalists will ‘still be held accountable’

By Samisoni Nabilivalu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 3, 2012) – The media will no longer be censored following the government's lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations - PER - on January 7, 2012.

This was confirmed by Information Ministry permanent secretary Sharon Smith Johns in an interview with The Fiji Times yesterday.

She made the statement following Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's announcement on Sunday that the PER would end by January 7.

Ms Smith-Johns said: "Government will no longer censor the news once it lifts the PER on the 7th of January. There will be no more censors or censorship of the news."

In his New Year's Message, the Prime Minister said he would "in the next few weeks" announce a nationwide consultation process for a new constitution for the country.

He said in order to facilitate this process, the Public Emergency Regulations, commonly known as the PER, would cease by January 7.

[PIR editor’s note: Fijilive reported that both Fiji retailers and Australia and New Zealand have welcomed PM Bainimarama’s announcement that the PER will end. New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully called the move "a step in the right direction."]

Ms Smith-Johns said this did not mean the media not would be held accountable for information they disseminated.

"We (Fiji) will be reverting to the Media Decree," she said.

"There will also be the Media Authority who will monitor the media.

"Once the PER is lifted, they (Media Decree and the Media Authority) will continue to ensure that the media is balanced and accountable in their reporting."

Ms Smith-Johns said the media had an "integral part" to play in shaping Fiji over the next two years as the country prepares for elections.

"The media will play an important part in shaping the thoughts of people and I certainly hope they continue to support Government in moving Fiji forward."

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