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Journalist detained overnight, questioned over story posted on news website

(PFF/IFEX) - 2 August 2010 - The overnight detention of Fiji journalist Richard Naidu over a news story on the FijiLive website is stirring concern over the continuing campaign of intimidation and fear against Fiji's journalists, says the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF).

Police confirmed Naidu was taken into custody on Friday 30 July, after the FijiLive site where he serves as news editor ran a story stating Fiji's military head of the police, Esala Teleni, had been suspended. A government release on Monday 2 August, hours after the FijiLive site returned from a weekend of going offline, stepped out its version of why the two events were unrelated. But PFF remains concerned over the signals sent out by the process of "police questioning" and its implications for Fiji's journalists.

"If police are going to use up their taxpayer-funded time questioning journalists overnight for every error of fact that is published, surely the public has a right to demand more clarity on the efficiency and priorities of their public officials," says PFF chair Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.

"We call on the regime to make public the reasons and the rules which govern the continued impromptu detainment of journalists for police questioning. It's a human rights issue, and will help police better understand their own responsibility to uphold professional integrity."

"In the news and information industry, it's impossible to get it right, all the time. Standard practice is that we say 'sorry' when we get it wrong, run a correction, and learn from it," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.

"We hope the regime who replaced the former Public Emergency Regulations with the new Media Decree will be open to ensuring their own officials understand that the PER is over - and that a media-led process for raising concerns and running corrections already exists."

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