Media workers face potential prison sentences on alleged politically-motivated charges

Expression

On 25th August 2017, Fiji's High Court reportedly changed The Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley's bail conditions to allow him to travel overseas to attend a workshop on media digitisation. Wesley was ordered to submit his travel documents back to the court registry upon returning to Fiji. Wesley is facing sedition charges, along with The Fiji Times publisher - Hank Arts, Anare Ravula - editor of Nai Lalakai, and contributor - Josaia Waqabaca. The four are facing trial over the publication of a letter in the Nai Lalakai newspaper in April 2016 which contained controversial views about Muslims, though it was not written by any member of The Fiji Times Limited. Under these charges, the four face up to seven years in prison. On 4th September 2017, the state was given more time by the court to provide more details on the charges. The case has been adjourned till 3rd October 2017.

Amnesty International condemned the charges against the media professionals, stating that:

“The fact that the authorities have seized on this one letter to bring charges against editors and publisher who did not write it, makes clear that the case is politically-motivated. The Fiji Times has a strong record of journalistic independence, a tradition that is now imperiled by these charges”.