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Fijian women journalists receive death threats, reports Fiji Sun

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The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation plans to complain to police once it has finished tracing their source. Image: Atu Rasea/Fiji Times.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Thomas Carnegie in Auckland

Two journalists have received death threats over their coverage of the Fiji elections, reports the Fiji Sun.

pacificfijielections logo 200wideFiji Broadcasting Corporation reporter Vosita Kotowasawasa and Fiji Sun’s western editor Jyoti Pratibha were reportedly threatened yesterday following reports they had published about the SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa pulling out of a live TV debate.

Kotoiwasawasa received threatening phone calls while Pratibha was threatened through fake Facebook accounts, said the Fiji Sun.

Kotoiwasawasa has declined to comment, but the FBC has confirmed it is working with Telecom Fiji Limited to trace the threatening calls. Once this is completed they will refer the matter to the police.

The Fiji Sun said their IT team is also trying to find those behind the fake Facebook profiles.

Pratibha told the Sun: I will not be intimidated or cowed by cowards who use fake profiles to threaten us.”

She said she was only doing her job and would continue to do so.

Taking precautions
The Fiji Sun has taken precautions to protect Pratibha though, and is now providing her with personal security.

The Fijian Media Association released a statement today strongly condemning the threats and calling on the leaders of all political parties to do the same.

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Death threats for women journalists report in the Fiji Sun today.

“We understand that there is unhappiness and anger at some of the reports written by our colleague Jyoti,” said FMA president Ricardo Morris.

“However those aggrieved can respond strongly and make their feelings known in a proper way without resorting to threats to kill journalists or cause them or their family physical harm.

“We note that no media has been spared criticism over the course of the campaign – with different political parties attacking the media organisations and journalists they don’t like.”

Morris urged the Fiji public to recognise the immense pressure placed on journalists during the election.

“Our journalists are facing pressure, intimidation and threats everyday with various sides pushing their policies and agenda, and the media is an easy scapegoat when things are not going someone’s way,” he said.

Political leanings
Morris said while some media organisations had taken political leanings, the Fiji public should appreciate the variety of news media organisations that operate within the country.

“Threats against any journalist, even those you may not agree with, must not be condoned,” he said.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie also condemned the reported death threats against Fiji journalists, saying this was a critical election for Fiji’s post-coup future and rival political camps should be committed to a free media – and free speech.

“Hot heads and demagogues drumming up vindictive threats on social media are not going to contribute to restoration of democratic freedoms,” said Dr Robie, who convenes the Pacific Media Watch freedom project.

The International Federation of Journalist’s Asia-Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said in a statement that death threats against journalists should not be taken lightly and were indicative of a hostile environment toward media workers.

Thomas Carnegie is a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalist at AUT University. He is reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course and is Fiji elections coverage editor.

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