USP Student Newspaper Editor Reportedly Assaulted

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Wansolwara story about audit allegedly leads to attack

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 17, 2015) – University of the South Pacific security authorities in Fiji are investigating allegations that the president of the USP Students Association (USPSA) federal council, Whitlam Saeni, has assaulted Wansolwara editor Sonal Singh over a news report on the auditing of one of its affiliated body’s finances.

The alleged assault happened on USP’s Laucala campus near the university library on Sunday evening.

Saeni sought out the editor of Wansolwara, the award-winning journalism training newspaper, threatened him and then punched him in the face.

Singh was not severely injured in the incident, a Wansolwara report said.

The head of USP journalism, Shailendra Singh, said journalism staff and students were appalled and distressed by the incident.

"There seems to be an attitude among some that the way to seek redress from the media is through violence and intimidation," he said.

"Regardless of where this line of thinking emanates from, we need to resist it before it becomes more firmly embedded in our societies.

"Intolerance of criticism is simply harmful and debilitating."

Last week, Saeni was featured in Wansolwara’s coverage of the USP Laucala Student Association’s failure to produce audited financial reports for the past five years.

This week Saeni sent an email to the editors of Wansolwara in which he stated that the journalists had wrongly accused the USPSA Federal Council of not producing audited financial reports.

The newspaper focused on the Laucala Students Association’s lack of reporting and approached Saeni as president of the governing body which oversees all student associations.

The Wansolwara editorial board stands by their initial reporting of the story.

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