USP student journos welcome move to repeal media law


USP Journalism Students Association believe the oppressive veil of the draconian media law in Fiji has been lifted and look forward to tomorrow’s debate in Parliament on the Bill to repeal the existing Media Industry Development Act (MIDA) 2010. Picture: JSA



The University of the South Pacific Journalism Students Association (USP JSA) have welcomed the Coalition Government’s bid to repeal the Media Industry Development Act (MIDA) 2010.

The motion to repeal the Media Act was tabled in Parliament by Attorney-General Siromi Turaga this week and will be debated in Parliament tomorrow.

For more than a decade, Fiji had been a land of shadows, where democracy and media freedom were, but faint whispers, never fully seen or experienced with respect to media rights.

USP JSA president Nikhil Kumar said as aspiring journalists who covered news for the student training newspaper and online publication, Wansolwara, they had come across countless experiences of journalists struggling to do their jobs under the weight of an unjust law.

“Every day they braved the unknown, shouldering a burden that threatened to break them. As student journalists we weren’t exempt from the risks either. We were constantly reminded about the Act in the course of our news coverage and journalism training,” Kumar said.

“But now, the winds of change have come, bringing a renewed sense of hope and promise.

“The oppressive veil has been lifted, and we can once again glimpse the light of a brighter tomorrow.”

Wansolwara student editor Viliame Tawanakoro shared similar sentiments saying they were pleased to learn that the Bill to repeal the Media Act would be debated in Parliament.

“We understand the Government is working on a legislation and we insist on a legal framework that allows reporters to ply their trade without fear of retribution or persecution, delve deep into critical issues and expose truths that are of interest to the public and the nation,” Tawanakoro said.

“Any new legislation should give journalists the freedom to speak truth to power, and hold those in positions of authority accountable for their actions in the interest of society built on the foundation of transparency and honesty.

“As we welcome this triumph of media freedom, we also remember those journalists who were persecuted in various ways for holding power to account especially when Fiji was under military rule.”

JSA and Wansolwara student editors say media freedom can never be guaranteed and “it is an ongoing fight for the sake of future generation to enjoy the same liberties that we now have”.

The Fijian Media Association (FMA) and Pacific Islands News Association had also celebrated the decision by Cabinet to table the Bill to repeal the draconian media law.

In recent statements, FMA and PINA noted that this had been long overdue as many media workers in Fiji struggled to operate freely under the current media legislation.

Media editors and journalists in Fiji echoed similar support for the repeal of the media legislation, noting that this was a ‘big win for democracy and media freedom’.


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