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Support for Fiji journalists from NZ Media

Media Release
6 December 2006

Support for Fiji journalists from New Zealand News Media

New Zealand media leaders have urged the Fijian military to allow the media to carry out their proper duties and demanded that soldiers cease manhandling of journalists.

Newspaper Publishers’ Association president Peter O’Hara said media in New Zealand offered their support to colleagues in Fiji. Mr O’Hara said some of the military leadership appeared to have a deluded view about the media’s role.

“The military seems to be trying to exercise total control of the media in Fiji.

“There is no place for the military in newsrooms and they must allow the media to perform their proper function. We have been informed of physical manhandling of local and foreign media as well as attempts to control news reporting.

“We totally support our media colleagues in Fiji.”

Mr O’Hara’s comments were supported by Tim Pankhurst, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Press Union and New Zealand’s Media Freedom Committee which represents all mainstream print and broadcast media.

“A number of New Zealand news media organisations have journalists working in Fiji and they are obviously monitoring their safety and security position, said Mr Pankhurst

“ But we are also concerned for the safety of Fiji’s own journalists who will be trying to maintain their usual high professional standards in ensuring that the actions of the military are properly and fairly reported. When soldiers try to replace the pen with the gun, nothing ever good comes from it.”

Mr Pankhurst said the CPU in New Zealand would be working with their colleagues throughout the Commonwealth to ensure that pressure was brought to bear on the military in Fiji to guarantee the safety of journalists and to allow them to carry out their professional tasks without interference.


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