Fiji media controls ‘appalling’
The serious decline in media freedom in the Pacific was passionately condemned yesterday by veteran ABC foreign correspondent Sean Dorney.
“The situation confronting journalists in Fiji at the moment is positively appalling,” Mr Dorney said.
“There have been military appointed censors in every newsroom for more than 12 months now.”
Mr Dorney, a keynote speaker at the UNESCO World Press Freedom conference in Brisbane, said he was stunned that the regional media body- Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) – did not send president Moses Stevens or CEO Matai Akauola to the conference.
“President Stevens not only has not come but he has even questioned our current definition of media freedom suggesting it’s a foreign concept to the Pacific. That’s an incredible insult to those Pacific Islanders who went before him who fought so valiantly for it,” he said.
“PINA once had a well deserved and solid reputation for defending media freedom in the island countries.”
Mr Dorney said concerned journalists had set up a Pacific Freedom Forum to take up the fight for media freedom in the region.
The foreign correspondent has reported for many years in the Pacific and he has experienced hardships first-hand, including deportations and house arrest.
“I was deported from Fiji at Easter last year when the military regime dumped the Constitution, sacked all the judges and had itself reappointed and given another five years to rule without the prospect of any democratic elections,” he said.
Mr Dorney said Australian journalists were often oblivious to how fortunate they are.
“I do wish the media here in Australia would pay more attention to the troubles and problems facing our colleagues in this region to our immediate north and east,” he said.