We accept that there was an error in our reporting on the Electoral Amendment Bill – Fred Wesley

We accept that there was an error in our reporting on the Electoral Amendment Bill – Fred Wesley

By Simione Tuvuki
Monday 22/03/2021
Fiji Times Chief Editor, Fred Wesley. [image: Rnz]

The Fiji Times Editor In Chief, Fred Wesley says they accept that there was an error in their reporting on the Electoral Amendment Bill where they suggested that the Supervisor of Elections has the power to jail and fine persons undermining public confidence in Fijian Elections Office functions.

Wesley says the power to jail and fine is in the Court.

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem has raised concerned with the grossly incorrect and inflammatory headline in The Fiji Times today titled “Power to Fine”.

Saneem says it has been suggested in the article that Section 144A (4) gives power to the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission to fine and jail persons publishing materials that undermine public confidence on duty and function of both offices.

The Fiji Times said in the first paragraph of the article that “Under the proposed Bill Number 50 of 2020, the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission have powers to fine and jail persons publishing materials undermining public confidence on his duty and function.”

Saneem says the Proposed Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2020 clearly states that “Section 144A (4) – Any person or political party that contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.”

Wesley says the error arose during their editing process and will be corrected.

The Fijian Elections Office also verified a report titled “Former officer questions transparency”, saying there is no record of any person by the name of Biu Solia to have undertaken any role as an election official at the Wailotua Polling Station in 2018.

Saneem says impersonation of an election official is an offence and they will refer this matter to FICAC.

Wesley says on the allegations by Biu Solia, The Fiji Times reported on submissions made to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights.

He says it reports proceedings of the Committee as they occur.

Wesley also says if the Supervisor of Elections wishes to respond to those reports, he is free to do so.

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