16 Apr 2009

Fiji regimes eases foreign media ban as domestic crackdown continues

3:36 pm on 16 April 2009

Fiji's interim government says foreign media representatives are welcome to visit Fiji under the current public emergency regulations.

The government spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, says the government has not stopped foreign media representatives prior to the emergency regulations and even under the current circumstances.

The announcement comes a day after interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama told Radio New Zealand all foreign media inquiries should be directed through him.

The Director of the Pacific Media Centre, at Auckland University of Technology Dr David Robie, says he would take the announcement with a grain of salt.

"It is a bit sudden to have this somersault at this stage, but, that being said, it is welcome. Is there going to be some relaxation in policy. Which many of us hope there would be quite soon. But of course, if you look through the statement from the regime, the key phrases, what they want is people that are going to 'understand Fiji's situation, and to report quote accurately and responsibly, unquote."

David Robie says the interim regime does seem to want journalists in the country that can report with depth and perception.

Meanwhile, another Fiji journalist has been taken into custody by the security forces.

Pita Ligaiula was escorted out of his Pacnews newsroom in Suva this afternoon by two police officers and a Senior Ministry of Information officer.

The authorities are reportedly unhappy about stories published in several Australian newspapers today carrying Mr Ligaiula's byline.