20 Oct 2007

Fiji High court rules Fiji media has freedom to publish information

7:09 am on 20 October 2007

The Suva High Court has delivered a landmark ruling giving the Fiji media the freedom to publish any government or statutory body information no matter how it is obtained.

The only exception would be if the owners of the information can prove that its publication is not in the public interest in accordance with provisions laid down in the constitution.

The ruling stems from an attempt by the Fiji National Provident Fund to stop Fiji Television from reporting further on an Ernst and Young audit report on the Fund.

Justice Roger Coventry has dissolved a temporary injunction granted to the Provident Fund last month.

He ruled that in the current circumstances in Fiji the freedom of the press assumes an even greater significance in matters of public interest.

Justice Coventry said just because a report is marked confidential does not mean that there is an enforceable right to prevent its publication.

He said the Fiji National Provident Fund is responsible for millions upon millions of dollars belonging to ordinary people which is invested for them and eventually paid out to them.

Justice Coventry said the Fund cannot seek to prevent the public from knowing the contents of a report covering the conduct of its affairs involving the investment of billions of dollars of their money.