There are no regulations on the placement of campaign materials in private properties as long as it does not encroach on public spaces, Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem says.
There are, however, he adds, limitations on public places designated for such material placement as set out in section 112 of the electoral act.
Section 112 of the Electoral Act prohibits any person of any political party or any candidate or any person on behalf of the political party, including any office holder of the political party or any person on behalf of any candidate to place campaign posters and flags on public buildings, monuments, electricity or lamp posts, and other public structures except in public places specifically designated by the supervisor for the placement of campaign material.
“On private premises, an individual is free to put up campaign material,” Mr Saneem said. “I have noticed that there has been some harassment on social media of various individuals who have put up campaign material on their private premises or in the office that has been leased out. And I’ve noticed that there has been on social media I’ve noticed that people are now asking them to remove it, and even to the extent where somebody went and said you are not allowed to put up campaign material. That is not correct. You can put up campaign material on private premises. And you have to be careful that it is not in any public structure, which includes roads, footpaths, or pavements. And as such the law in Fiji prohibits you from doing it unless the SoE is specifically authorised and we do not authorize any on lamp posts, Telecom posts or EFL posts.”
Should a party or an individual is found breaching section 112 of the Electoral Act, Mr Saneem says that the FEO “will take the approach of compliance first before prosecution” by ordering that the campaign materials are removed, as set out in section 116 of the same act, as it did with the two recent cases involving banners of FijiFirst and the National Federation Party. Non-adherence to removal directives is considered an offense the penalties for which, if convicted, is a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.
He said the approach ensures that the campaign environment is compliant with electoral laws in place.