News and Comments Wednesday 28 November 2012
|Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts, me, and editor Fred Wesley|
Apted explained that the deputy sports editor had reviewed the story and made a wrong decision as he was not aware of the legal implications.Following the incident, the newspaper has instituted further training and constant newsroom meetings.He said the rule of the newsroom now is that if you cannot get a story reviewed, leave it out of the paper. Apted said further steps are being taken to strengthen the system.He said that every day at 8pm, the general manager and the publisher are sent a list of stories with a summary.
The Fiji Times position was made more difficult because of its failure to attract staff at the editorial level and recent losses of senior people. Justice Callanchini said the systems should have been in place before this incident took place. Apted asked that the penalties should not be excessive and there should not be any imprisonment as this was a mistake by a third party.
Acting Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma asked the High Court to impose a $500,000 fine and six months imprisonment for publisher Hank Arts and Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley. Sharma said The Fiji Times ccommitted a similar offence in 2009 where they were fined $100,000. he said an appropriate penalty needs to be imposed on the company to ensure that it serves as a deterrent for would be offenders.The judgement will be delivered on notice by Justice Callanchini.
I think the judge should impose a notional fine, say $10,000 as Apted suggests, and move on. The evolving situation in Fiji calls for more freedom, and more responsible reporting, A significantly larger fine —and any imprisonment— will seem unnecessarily vindictive and be unhelpful as Fiji struggles to move forward. Click this link for fuller Fiji Times coverage. I will report on my interviews with the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun sometime soon.
HELLO FIJI. ARE YOU STILL THERE? At long last Fiji has resurfaced in the NZ media but guess what they have published? Radio NZInternational quotes the National President of the Farmers Union, Surendra Lal, on the proposed tax free zone along Kings Road from Korovou to Rakiraki, saying he doesn’t think there is much opportunity for huge developments. And Michael Field says the Fiji Government wants the Fiji Times Editor jailed for re-printing a story first published in New Zealand's Murdoch-owned Sunday Star-Times that claimed there was "no judiciary in Fiji and that the place was run by a military regime."
Not reported was anything substantial on the Budget. Or Fiji's standing by the Kyoto Agreement on climate change, that NZ has all but abandoned. Or that a prominent blogger was recently in Fiji and has some things to say contrary to those typically published in the NZ media. My golfing friends, thanks to old TV film footage, remain unconvinced the military is not still occupying Suva. I'm sure, had I denounced Bainimarama or said anything to support the false TV images, the phone would not have stopped ringing. So much for media freedom and responsible reporting in NZ.
MILITARY YET TO GIVE SUBMISSION. Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Mohammed Aziz, says the submission will be given to the Constitution Commission and arrangements are being made. But why so late?The deadline for the submissions ended in early October, and the Commission is expected to complete its draft before Christmas. The draft will be presented to the President in early January before being put to the Constituent Assembly,
THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. Government has said the composition of the assembly shall reflect the diversity of the people of Fiji and include but not limited to the government, registered political parties, faith-based organizations, employers representatives, trade unions, farmers and members of the rural community, the military, national organizations, women, persons with disability, youth, pensioners and other civil society groups.
Once approved by the Assembly, the document go to a tribunal that will consider whether the immunity provisions and other matters are contained in the draft. Within seven days of receipt of the draft constitution and the report of the tribunal, the Constituent Assembly shall make the necessary amendments in accordance with the report of the tribunal and shall present draft constitution back to the President.The new constitution shall come into effect on the day following the date of assent by the President, subject to any provision in the constitution that postpones this date.The work of the Constituent Assembly is expected to be completed by late March 2013.