Tuesday, 26 May 2009 7:55 AM

People Fear Being Caught on the Internet in Fiji

People in Fiji are reportedly in fear of being caught using the internet because they fear being accused of reading anti-government blog sites.

According to the Australia Network News, a Fijian blogger, 'who can't be named to protect their identity, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program, it's not just bloggers themselves who are careful about being identified by the government but blog readers as well'.

The blogger, one of the people behind "Coup Four Point Five" says feedback from readers indicates that many people in Fiji are worried about simply being observed at a computer accessing the internet.

Since the coup of 2006, many blog sites have risen regarding Fiji news and more so with the latest censorship of the media. The blogs have become people's only source of uncensored information.

"One of the comments that's interesting is that some has said to me 'keep it short, we're going in to read your blog in particular during work times and we can't be seen to be surfing the net, we can't be seen to be on the internet, we wan't to get information is the quickest way possible, in an easy way to digest'."

Last week, three lawyers were detained by Fiji police under the suspicion that they were contributing to some of the blogs that were deemed anti-military.

"[The government] are certainly, I think, very interested in who is doing what and where the information is coming from and certainly what their sources are."

"And we saw that with the two lawyers, they have been targeted and their material have been confiscated that there is cause that there is something to be able to do our work."


However, according to the report, Australian Internet Security specialist, Patrick Gray, 'says while it is possible for governments to track people online there are some ways Fijians can safely browse the internet' such as 'some software tools on the internet which might help blog readers in Fiji avoid detection'.

Meanwhile, according to another report by Australia Network News, the Fiji Law Society was raided on Saturday by plain clothes police.

The society told Radio Australia's Pacific correspondent Campbell Cooney they confiscated all files and documents pertaining to complaints and other issues.

The society was told a decree was passed by the Interim Government yesterday removing its legal standing as the body representing Fiji's lawyers.


According to the latest news from Fijilive, the latest decree issued by the interim government is that all of Fiji's lawyers will need the approval of the new Chief Registrar to continue practicing beyond the end of next month, a role that was taken by the Fiji Law Society until the new decree.

Under the decree, the 16th following the abrogation of Fiji's Constitution on April 10, anyone who continues to practice after June 2009 without a proper legal practitioners certificate will face fine of up to "$10,000" or imprisonment of up to "2 years, or both".

Lawyers will need to apply by June 15 to be able to practice until February, 2010.


However, according to the report, 'the decree sets out the establishment and continuation of the Fiji Law Society, instead of its disbandment' but under the new arrangement, membership of the society will be voluntary.