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Fiji Media Council Condemns Harassment of Television News Team
19 July 2000
Pacific Media Watch
Suva (PMW): The Fiji Media Council has condemned the actions of prison wardens who roughed up a Fiji Television journalist outside the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva while covering the two-month-old Fiji political crisis on 17 July 2000.
Council chairman Daryl Tarte said society would not condone such acts against journalists while doing their work in a public place, reported Fiji's Daily Post on July 19.
Fiji Television showed footage of prison wardens manhandling two of its news staff, reporter Imraz Iqbal and cameraman Ravinesh Prakash, and trying to force them to leave as they stood on a public road outside the hospital.
The clip, broadcast on July 17 and repeated on July 18, showed prison officers jostling, abusing and seizing Iqbal and trying to force him into a car.
In his statement reported by the Daily Post and Fiji Times, Tarte said: "While I can understand the irrational behaviour of the thugs who smashed up Fiji TV, society cannot condone the outrageous harassment of a Fiji TV reporter on a public road outside the CWM hospital on Monday. "As chairman of the Fiji Media Council I have been carefully monitoring the Fiji Media reports of the events since May 19.
"It has been an extremely difficult and dangerous time. Many of the reporters would never have experienced the circumstances of a coup or hostages situation. "Yet in my opinion, they constantly provided viewers, listeners and readers of Fiji with balanced, accurate and interesting reports," said Tarte. He said the media in Fiji has emerged from the ordeal freer and stronger and had proved the value of an independent media in society.
"I hope that others like the prison authorities will better understand their role, give respect and allow them to get on with their job," Tarte said.