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FIJI: Decree gags media reports of unregistered political parties


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Item: 8203

Nanise Loanakadavu

SUVA (The Fiji Times / Pacific Media Watch): Media organisations in Fiji may no longer describe former political parties as "political parties" under a new decree announced yesterday.

Registrar of political parties Mere Vuniwaqa announced this following an amendment to the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Amendment Decree 2013.

The amendment came into effect on Saturday, February 16.

Directors, publishers, editors and other officials of news organisations face fines of up to $50,000 or five year's imprisonment if they breach the new decree.

Vuniwaqa said the amendment would impact on the role of the media in the whole process of registering political parties.

She said it was an offence for former political parties to hold themselves out as political parties if they were not registered under the decree.

"This is basically an extension of what political parties are not allowed to do," Vuniwaqa said.

Section 3 of the decree states:

"If any media organisation reports, represent or holds out an association of persons or an organisation as a political party when that association of persons or an organisation is not registered as a political party under this Decree or when its application for registration has not been determined by the Registrar, then the directors of that media organisation and the editor and publisher or the chief executive officer of that media organisation, as the case may be, commit an offence, and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both."

Before the announcement, a former political party was considering reregistering under a new name with the same acronym.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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