New York, April 13, 2009--Fiji's interim government must relax its reporting restrictions after the government declared a 30-day state of emergency on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Three foreign reporters have since been ordered to be deported and one local journalist detained, according to international news reports, and newspapers and broadcasts have been censored.
Australian Sean Dorney and
Local news reports critical of the government have been
banned during the state of emergency, caretaker Prime Minister Frank
Bainimarama announced Saturday in a national address marking his reappointment.
He had briefly stepped down on April 10 after a senior court ruled that
Bainimarama's military-backed rule--supposedly a prelude to restoring
democracy--was unlawful, the reports said. "Information officers" were posted in
"The introduction of blanket censorship during the emergency calls the government's commitment to restoring democracy into serious doubt," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The authorities must remove censors from newsrooms, lift restrictions, free detained journalists, and halt the expulsion of foreign reporters immediately."
Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo declared the emergency on Friday, overturning the constitution and firing the judiciary, after the court of appeal said Thursday that a December 2006 coup--lead by Bainimarama--was illegal, international news reports said.
Dorney, an ABC journalist whose reports were being broadcast
on Fiji One, was driven with a military guard to the airport on Monday,
according to Agence France-Presse. He had previously told reporters the
immigration department had asked him to leave because they were unhappy with
his reporting. Officials confiscated footage and a cell phone from Aston, a New
Zealand TV3 correspondent, according to The Associated Press. She and cameraman
Matt Smith were also asked to leave the country, international news reports said.
It is not clear whether any of the three are still in
Page two of the daily Fiji
Times was blank except for a notice: "The stories on this page could not be
published because of Government restrictions," AP reported. Fiji One replaced
an evening news bulletin with the message, "Viewers please be advised that
there will be no 6 p.m. news tonight.Three other Australians affiliated with prominent
publications have been expelled from