Minister for Women and Children Rosy Akbar yesterday attacked the Fiji Times, saying it had published ‘incorrect and out of context information’ about her comments at a conference on gender-based violence last week.
Ms Akbar was responding to a statement released by Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde criticizing her comments during a consultation on the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls with the justice sector.
At the consultation, Ms Akbar said she wanted to take ‘the opportunity to push for tougher action in every case of domestic violence and sexual offenses because we need to stop taking risks’.
Mr Pryde said it was inappropriate for Ms Akbar, as a government minister, to interfere with criminal sentencing, which he said was a judicial function.
Ms Akbar said Mr Pryde had ‘used incorrect and out-of-context information published in the Fiji Times and made a factually inaccurate statement’.
“The Department would like to state explicitly and unequivocally that it has never, or intends to, interfere in the sentencing process of the justice system and it is regrettable that the DPP has relied on the Fiji Times, who has been caught numerous times in the past spreading false information as a source of information,” its statement read.
“The proper way to handle this would have been to pick up the phone and call the department for clarification instead of making factually incorrect statements, and we urge the DPP to regularly exercise their best judgment to verify information.
“The ministry does not intend to interfere in the sentencing process of the justice system and it is regrettable that the DPP relied on the Fiji Times as a source of information,” the statement said.
Fiji Times editor Fred Wesley said the content of an article titled “Judicial Affairs Reminded of Their Roles” published on Thursday, June 9, was taken directly from a speech she gave.
“The Minister’s claim that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has used incorrect and out-of-context information published in the Fiji Times and that the Fiji Times” on several occasions in the past, has been caught disseminating information erroneous as a source of information “is a serious allegation, and it should be backed up with evidence,” Wesley said.