FWRM: Media freedom is not fully exercised in Fiji

Members of the media in Fiji. Picture: FILE/ELILKI NUKUTABU

Media freedom is not fully exercised, says the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM).

In a media statement, FWRM said the NGO Coalition on Human Rights said they reaffirmed the principles of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights.

“Almost 52 years since Fiji’s independence from British rule, what has the country achieved?” FWRM said on Thursday to commemorate the International Day of Democracy.

“There is increased militarisation of our government, media freedom is not fully exercised and violence against women and girls is at an all-time high.

“And the impact of COVID-19 on our people is still felt in ripples where security and safety of Fijians are at risk.”

FWRM said democracy was more than just holding elections or checking boxes of conventions ratified and international obligations met.

“True democracy means that every Fijian is able to have a say in decisions that affect their lives.

“It means that freedom of expression and free media are protected without fear and intimidation.

“It demands that the military and police end brutalising ordinary citizens, and ensures that women are on equal parity to men in all spheres.

“A truly democratic State is inclusive, transparent, accountable and representative of everyone, free from any form of discrimination.

“Fiji’s history of coups has periodically challenged and held to ransom democracy and rule of law.

“Today, we still see a fragile democratic State that has not completely recovered.”

FWRM said the coalition demanded the government cease control and abuse of power to suppress the media from publishing matters of national public interest.

“Without a free press, democracy cannot survive. “NGOCHR calls for true and genuine democratic rule and demands that the government holds true to its global ‘promises’ on the protection of human rights.

“As the country draws near to elections, we urge Fijian citizens to make informed choices and choose a government that will ensure that people live with dignity where their human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, promoted and fulfilled.”

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