Fiji newsrooms raided after emergency rule declared

April 11th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by admin  

FIJI (BNO NEWS) – Police officers raided the newsrooms of several publications in Fiji on Saturday to censor current and past news reporting, BNO News has learned. The move comes just hours after the president imposed an emergency rule which limits freedom of speech and gave police expanded powers.

“Police officers [are] here at our newsroom, checking what we have reported and what we [are] yet to report on,” a journalist for a publication in Fiji told BNO News on Saturday. “Police officers in Fiji have been dispatched in teams to various local newsrooms to censor items that have been published and yet to be published, particularly by newspapers,” he said. BNO News has decided to withhold his identity and affiliation because of the current situation.

“A local television [station] got two news items pulled out of their news segment, a local newspaper we understand had 56 pulled out,” the journalist said. The emergency regulation decree, which was announced by President Iloilo on Saturday, states, among other rules, that media organizations must submit any material to the government before it is allowed to be published.

It is not the first time Fiji imposed restrictions on the news media. In 2006, for example, Fiji’s leading daily newspaper and sole television station were forced to suspend their operations after attempts by the military to censor their news. In another incident, in 2007, a New Zealand journalist was deported from Fiji after he criticized the military regime on his personal website.

On Friday, foreign media was banned from witnessing an address from the president with no reason given. In the news conference, President Iloilo announced he abrogated the 1997 Constitution and that he appointed himself the Head of State. He also revoked all appointments to the judiciary.

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