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The Fijian Media Association (FMA) has condemned the actions of the Police personnel who tried to stop journalists from covering a court case involving five Police officers Monday.
FMA General Secretary Stanley Simpson says it is unacceptable that the media personnel were physically blocked and prevented from performing their journalism duties.
Simpson said the Police officers of all people should know that no one is above the law and everyone needs to be treated equally.
He said the coverage of these court cases goes a long way in building public trust and confidence in our institutions of law and justice.
The FMA General Secretary is urging both the Police Force and the public to understand the role of journalists and the work that they do.
He said journalists are performing a public service at the courthouse by reporting on the cases that appear before the judiciary.
Simpson says this allows the public to see what is happening in our society, and more importantly that the laws of the country are being enforced, that a fair trial is being administered, and that justice and the rule of law are being served and adhered.
He said journalists must be able to report freely and without intimidation.
A journalist from the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation was also stopped from covering the case and was verbally attacked after several attempts to enter the courtroom.
The journalist was told that the courtroom was full.
The five police officers alleged to have implanted drugs in a vehicle last year were also given special treatment and were placed in the Juveniles Bureau Unit rather than the cell block where other alleged offenders are kept while waiting for their matter to be called.
This is not the first time when attempts like this have been made.
In previous instances when a matter was called, the media were allowed in despite the courtroom being full.
Meanwhile, the five police officers were released on bail to reappear on 23 of April.
The sixth officer is yet to be produced in court.
Meanwhile, Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says they will look into this issue and the conduct of the officers.
Tudravu said the Fiji Police Force values and respects the role members of the media have to play.
He said fficers are aware of this and need to respect media rights and freedom.
Tudravu said any reports of officers not allowing members of the media to conduct their work will be looked into and addressed.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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