UNESCO voices concern over restriction on press in Fiji | world | Hindustan Times
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UNESCO voices concern over restriction on press in Fiji

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom voiced "grave concern" over the crackdown on the media in Fiji after the country's leadership scrapped its Constitution and declared a state of emergency last week.

world Updated: Apr 18, 2009 13:38 IST

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom voiced "grave concern" over the crackdown on the media in Fiji after the country's leadership scrapped its Constitution and declared a state of emergency last week.

According to new regulations in the South Pacific archipelago nation, editors are not allowed to publish or broadcast any material that shows the military in an unfavourable light, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said in a press release.

UNESCO said that sensitive stories must also be approved by Government officials, and publication and media organizations ignoring these directives may be shut down. "I am gravely concerned about press freedom in Fiji," said UNESCO Director-General Koochiro Matsuura, echoing earlier remarks made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Urging the authorities to allow open debate to find lasting solutions to the country's difficulties, Matsuura stressed that the basic right to "freedom of expression, which underpins press freedom, is essential for democracy, good governance and rule of law."

A state of emergency was declared by President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda on April 10. As a result, all judges and magistrates were removed, along with others who had been appointed under the Constitution.