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Media Decree Can Be Challenged In Court: A-G

The Media Decree could be challenged in a court of law for those who had issues with it, according to the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was contributing to a
16 May 2015 10:02
Media Decree Can Be Challenged In Court: A-G
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya (left), Opposition MP Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki and Media Industry Development Authority Chairman Ashwin Raj outside Parliament yesterday. Photo: Jona Konataci

The Media Decree could be challenged in a court of law for those who had issues with it, according to the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was contributing to a debate in Parliament yesterday on an Opposition motion to review or repeal the Media Industry Development Decree 2010.

Despite some criticism of the decree, he pointed out Fiji’s improved position on international media freedom rankings.

“This year on the World Press Freedom Index 2015, Fiji has jumped in its rankings from 107 to 93rd, we are improving and we will continue to improve,” he said.

“They need to look at the essence of what this decree is about.”

He asked if journalists were stopped from interviewing them when they left the House.. He said:

‘‘Is anybody telling them no you can only speak to that person and that person? It’s up to the media organisations what story they run…who they want to run it, what is the editorial piece on it.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out that no journalist, no media organisation, no editor, no publisher had been charged under this decree. But he pointed out:

‘’Freedom of speech, freedom of publication does not give the media to write any story about any individual. It does not give the media the right to say  for example well we know Mr X, Y, Z was standing outside Pender Street, therefore,  he was seeing prostitutes. They can’t make those statements.”

He also pointed out that the Media Code of Ethics in the decree was taken word for word from the Fiji Media Council Code of Ethics.

National Federation Party (NFP) leader, Biman Prasad’s motion for a review or a repeal of the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 was defeated.

Seventeen MPs voted in favour of the motion, 24 went against the motion while nine members did not vote.

Mr Prasad, in presenting the motion, said Fiji’s future as a social, economic and politically stable nation could not be guaranteed unless freedom of expression was enshrined through a free, fair and credible media.

“The Media Industry Development Decree is regressive and suppresses Media Freedom because it imposes restrictions and prescribes heavy penalties.

“This decree must either be repealed or amended substantially because we believe the media should not be regulated by the State or any government.”

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya, as part of his contribution, quoted from the 1971 Hansard Report.

He quoted his late father, Leader of Opposition and the National Federation Party,  Siddiq  Koya:

“It will not be a big joke when the country goes mad; the country goes berserk because the newspapers of the day, in the critical hour have indulged in sensationalism. I know, Sir, our limitations and I am well aware of what is happening. Whilst we cannot advocate the abrogation of freedom of speech we can nonetheless, Mr Speaker, pass sufficient laws to see that they are within the discipline society. I have said before and I will say it again, Sir, freedom and democracy without discipline are meaningless, they mean nothing. They are only free in a well ordered society.”

Feedback: litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj

 



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