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IFJ supports journalists' right to protect sources

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IFJ SUPPORTS FIJI JOURNALISTS' RIGHT TO PROTECT SOURCES
http://www.ifj-asia.org/

SYDNEY (IFJ Asia-Pacific Online/Pacific Media Watch): The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has come out today in support of Fiji journalists' right to protect their sources in the face of strong pressure from government forces.

Fiji police have been pressuring Fiji Television journalists to reveal the source of a police statement relating to the May 2000 coup led by George Speight.

"Using heavy-handed tactics to force journalists to reveal their sources will only stifle independent media in Fiji at a time when the country is in need of a strong and independent press," said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

On April 18 and 19, Fiji Television ran two separate stories based on a statement, submitted to the police by soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Viliame Seruvakula. Seruvakula alleged that he was offered close to $US150,000 to side with rebel soldiers attempting to topple the then Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

The following day, police executed a search warrant at Fiji Television's office.

In compliance with Fiji law, Fiji TV news director Netani Rika handed police a copy of Seruvakula's statement on Wednesday, April 20, but has said they will not reveal the source of the statement. Under Fiji's penal code, the station can be charged for obtaining and airing a confidential police document. Fiji Television Ltd says it will stand by its journalistic values to protect the source of the document and its journalist.

Fiji's laws do not recognise protection of sources and journalists may be held in contempt if they do not disclose sources in a court of law.

The IFJ calls on the Fijian government to respect press freedom and journalists' right to protect their sources.

* For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668. The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

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