16 May 2003

Fiji Media Bill called draconian

3:21 pm on 16 May 2003

There's been more strong criticism of the Fiji government's proposed Media Bill with the Labour Party describing it as mean, draconian and an outright attempt to gag the media.

The Fiji Times reports that the bill proposes to control and censor the media through a government-controlled Media Council which will replace the current independent body.

It quotes the Labour secretary general, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, as saying the bill seems to be an attempt to suppress and control the media after it exposed massive scams within the government.

Mr Vyashnoi says media freedom is essential for free and fair reporting of government activities.

The National Federation Party says the bill is a regressive piece of legislation which has no place in civilised society.

The NFP says the bill would give the government total control of the media and allow it to dictate what the media can report.

The Fiji Council of Churches, the Fiji Teachers Union, the Disabled People's Association and Hindu religious organisations have joined in condemnation of the bill.

But the minister for information Simione Kaitani, has described media criticism of the bill as a total breach of trust because consultations are still taking place.