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Fiji Judiciary Upholds Freedom of Expression

NGO Coalition on Human Rights

Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights

23/05/2018 Press Release: Fiji Judiciary Upholds Freedom of Expression

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights welcomes the decision of the Judiciary. Section 17 of the Constitution guarantees the citizens of Fiji with freedom of speech, expression and publication.

"It is encouraging to see democracy and rule of law prevail in Fiji. The Coalition holds freedom of expression and speech dear to the realisation of human rights," said Nalini Singh, Chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights.

Earlier in the year, the Coalition had raised concerns with the ambiguity of media laws and freedom that will only foster a climate of fear and intimidation for the press and also curtail meaningful political discussion which is significant to a robust democracy.

"We reiterate the importance to promote an enabling environment for our citizens and our media to prevent self-censorship and ensure people are being informed of current affairs and issues,” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

“It is pertinent to note that sedition is an impractical law in our modern society which maybe shown through the decision of the Judiciary in this case. It is an archaic law and perhaps best removed from our legislation as it unnecessarily curtails freedom of speech and expression. Britain from which we acquired our colonial laws has abolished sedition as a criminal offence in 2009.” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

"The NGOCHR believes that public order and national security can be upheld and protected without undermining the principles of press freedom,” said Ms. Singh. We also note that the Media Industry Development Authority of Fiji (MIDA) is an independent statutory body set up by the Fijian Government to regulate the media. As such future complaints regarding the media should be dealt with by MIDA.

The NGOCHR continues to encourage the realisation of full human rights in Fiji and the practice of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 2013 Fiji Constitution.

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