Review law, says party

Letter writer Josefa Waqabaca and his lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh outside the Suva High Court. The High Court in Suva has found the Fiji Times Ltd, its three senior officials and a letter writer not guilty of sedition. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE National Federation Party (NFP) is calling on the country’s law-makers to consider reviewing the sedition laws in the Crimes Act. The party made the statement after the acquittal of The Fiji Times publisher and general manager Hank Arts, its editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, Fiji Times Ltd and letter writer Josaia Waqabaca of sedition charges and aiding and abetting the publication of an alleged seditious article.

Party leader Professor Biman Prasad claimed the sedition laws in the Crimes Act may have the effect of suppressing freedom of speech.

“Sedition has no place in a democracy where freedom of speech should be a fundamental right with any recourse or redress pursued through fair media laws or civil action in the court as was done previously,” Prof Prasad said.

“While the judgment is a victory for freedom of speech and the media, the action in the first instance to changes in the law which subjected The Fiji Times executives and the letter writer to a lengthy court action lasting some two years, must have been psychologically draining.”

In a judgment delivered by the High Court in Suva, judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva on Tuesday ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the article published in the Nai Lalakai newspaper on April 27, 2016 was seditious and that it had the tendency to promote feelings of ill will and hostility among Muslims and non-Muslims.

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