JUST over eight years ago this month, as thousands of Christians marked the death of Jesus Christ, Fiji’s interim government crucified the 1997 Constitution. A day later censors were forcibly placed in newsrooms. Then, now the late, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo disregarded an earlier ruling by the Appeals Court which had declared (then) Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s appointment as prime minister illegal.
On Holy Thursday 2008 Bainimarama vowed on national television to abide by the declaration of the court and await the orders of the President. Most of Fiji awoke the following day to the promise of a new beginning and a return to democracy. But it was not to be.
On Good Friday Iloilo re-appointed Bainimarama and abrogated the supreme law by which Fiji had been governed for 12 years. Iloilo effectively killed the Constitution and ushered in an unprecedented six years of rule by decrees and promulgations.
One of those decrees – the Media Industry Development Decree – was born out of those early days of censorship in which journalists and the companies for which they worked were beaten into submission and gagged.
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