Hank Arts

Fiji Times charged for ?inciting communal antagonism?

Today Fiji?s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, has decided to prosecute Josaia Waqabaca, Anare Ravula, Fred Wesley, Hank Arts, and the Fiji Times Ltd on charges of inciting communal antagonism under section 65 (2) (a)(i) and section 53 (1) of the Crimes Decree in relation to an article published by the Fiji Times in its supplemental iTaukei language newspaper Nai Lalakai on 27 April 2016.

Before you howl with the predictable outrage that other NZ media will do it might pay to give you some context.

In Fiji s65 of the Crimes Decree makes it an offence to make public statements that are likely “to incite dislike or hatred or communal antagonism of any community in Fiji“. It doesn’t matter whether what is said is correct or accurate, only that it is “likely to incite” which is quite a low threshold.

Section 65 is seen as a justified limitation on the constitutional right to freely express an opinion. The limitation is justified more so in the Fijian context when minority groups have been targeted in the past with devastating consequences, including murder and rape as seen when George Speight conducted his racist coup in 2000. ?? Read more »

Why are the Aussies surprised at their snubbing in Fiji?

It seems the Aussies are still up to their old tricks.

This morning’s Fiji Sun has a story which may give us an insight as to what awaits?NZ and how we will handle what is likely to be the same treatment at ?the Waitangi Day celebrations next week in Suva.

Top Government and Judiciary members conspicuously stayed away from the Australia Day celebrations in Suva last night.

It underscored continuing concerns in Suva over attitudes of Australian diplomats here, including High Commissioner Margaret Twomey, well informed sources said.

Among those not at the high commission?s function were Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

All were invited and all were in town.

It came at the end of a day when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had warmly praised Fiji in a message published only by the Fiji Sun. But in marked contrast High Commissioner Twomey same time barely mentioned Fiji in a message published by both daily newspapers.

This reemphasised concerns of a chasm in attitude towards Fiji. This is between the warmth of Ms Bishop ? potentially Australia?s next Prime Minister ? and hardline bureaucrats and diplomats working in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

These are the people who drove the now widely discredited failed Australian policy of trying to isolate Fiji. ? Read more »