Fiji's Kiwi Solicitor-General Replies to NZ Law Society

PRESS RELEASE

Invitation Extended to New Zealand Law Society

The New Zealand Law Society’s (“NZLS”) concern about the independence of the Fiji judiciary being undermined is misplaced and recent comments made by the NZLS are ill-informed and just plain wrong.

These comments were made by Fiji Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary for Justice, Mr Christopher Pryde yesterday in reaction to reports that the NZLS had been advised that five Magistrates had recently been dismissed without notice.

Mr Pryde said that this was an old issue which happened last year and he questioned why this is being brought up again now.

Mr Pryde said that Judges and Magistrates in Fiji continue to have the freedom to decide cases on their own without interference from the executive branch of government.

In responding to the allegation by the NZLS that a Magistrate was dismissed for questioning the propriety of a prosecution against a human rights lawyer and her husband by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (“FICAC”), Mr Pryde said this was “just plain wrong”.

Mr Pryde said that it would appear that the NZLS is allowing itself to be used by certain people for their own ends and to further their own agendas. He said it was also disappointing that the NZLS was prepared to accept and quote NGO sources and questionable reports without attempting to check the facts or get a response from the Fiji authorities.

“No Magistrate or Judge has been dismissed for rejecting prosecution cases and it is disappointing that the NZLS should make such unsubstantiated allegations without first checking the facts. FICAC is an independent organisation and makes its own decisions with regards to prosecutions. The case brought against Imrana Jalal and her husband in relation to their restaurant has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and is proceeding through the High Court in the normal manner. The more serious charges of corruption brought by FICAC against Mr Tuisolia in relation to his time as the CEO of Airports Fiji are also proceeding in the High Court.

It is also highly inappropriate for anyone to be making comments on matters that are before the courts. These matters will be decided by the courts and people have the right to appeal any decision if they so choose” he said.

Mr Pryde also said that it was ironic that the NZLS has concerns about the rule of law in Fiji but denies its members the opportunity to take up legal positions in Fiji by banning advertisements for legal positions in the NZLS publication Law Talk.

“If the NZLS was truly concerned about the rule of law in Fiji they should be actively supporting the rule of law in Fiji and reforms such as the establishment of the Independent Legal Services Commission to investigate lawyers.

To this end, I would like to extend an invitation to the NZLS to visit Fiji and to see first hand the progress that is being made in Fiji with regard to the rule of law” he said.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Oh please Croz, everyone knows the charges against Imrana would normally be a Suva city council matter and around a $20 fine. FICAC has been used to pursue her even if now it has been moved to the DPP office. Why Imrana - because she has spoken out against this coup and the previous three. Government has to get over these personal grudges and move on. It destroys all their preaching about fair and transparent.
Anonymous said…
M.B.N

Why all the sacking then. Perhaps the AG could give some reasons to remove the doubt ?

This government is its own worst enemy at times. It can't just lecture Fiji on doing the right thing it has to be seen to be doing the right thing.

Preach a higher standard then you need to live a higher standard. It's loves lecturing about accountability but will it let anyone audit the Military ? It will use FICAC to chase opponents but what about supporters....why did Mahen get off with being able to resign ? Why was Mr Kean allowed to kill someone and do no time and come back to his high position......may be because he is the brother in law of frank and a big coup supporter ?
Anonymous said…
Just maybe judges in Fiji are independent. But the scope of what they can hear or rule on now is very narrow. No decree, no military appointment, no sacking, no government decision can be challenged. Given all judges where sacked before and lack of info on those sacked recently people can wonder if there is not a biased reason for there sacking ?
sara'ssista said…
It is always amusing to read how a lawyer cannot reer to the importance and principle of issues but refers that they happended last year and why bring it up ??!! How can an independant judiciary work under a regime that can dismiss without scrutiny ??!!A great start... and the invitation to the NZ law society is only if they talk with whom this regime wants and reports as they this regime see's fit, ort they will be smeared, as usual,. pleae don't patronise your readers with th idea that they have any freedome either. They won't. And their position is quite clear . no positions are 'legal' under this military regime'.
Anonymous said…
Sure, the Fijian judiciary is totally independent. Nobody has ever interfered with any decisions, nobody has ever fired judges since 2006 and every government decision can be challenged in court. In fact, the Fiji government welcomes constructive criticism as long as it is aimed at the Aussies and Kiwis. Come to Fiji and have a look for yourself, but be a bit careful what you say and do. Frank is in the process of creating a true heaven on earth, although some skeptics in Oz and NZ cannot see the light.
Anonymous said…
Mr Pryde,

Perhaps you could enlighten us further by answering these questions ?
1. Why then was the judge recently sacked ?
2. Why where the five judges sacked last year. Yes time has passed but we still do not have an answer to that question.
3. Why was FICAC investigating a license issue for fish and chip shop in the first place ?
4. If NZLS come to Fiji will they access to current and sacked judges ?

Fiji awaits your answers.
Anonymous said…
FICAC good idea, not executed well...

So FICAC is independant ? If I write a complaint about the PM's backpay and sign it, it will be investigated and I won't persoanlly come under threats from the police and military ?

If I complain about those involved in National Bank of Fiji saga they will be investigated even though they are in government ?

I don't think so.

FICAC is a great idea and long over due but the PM and Military have their hands all over it.

Everyone is equal except some are more equal - the military and Frank and friends.
Anonymous said…
New Export Market

The dribble that comes out of these guys mouth should be bottled and sold as an exotic "Island Dribble". AG admitted our yesterday our exports had actually dropped despite the 'i fixed fiji' claims from the RBG Gov.

"Island Dribble" could be the next big export market. Someone should build the business quickly then FHL could offer to buy it at 30-40% more than the real value before checking if they had the money to do so.
Anonymous said…
Pro Current Government

Croz,

Looks like a few non believers and doubtimg toms are making a bit of noise on your website again. Might be time to edit them, insist again they use pseudonyms or better still send them of to coup 4.5
Moving Fiji forward said…
For those serious about moving Fiji forward something drastic needs to be done. And quickly. Anyone who thinks Fiji is not in very major trouble financially is either naive or in denial. The forced closure of the Fiji Times, for example, will have devastating long term effects on the economy and investor confidence in Fiji.
Reports in the censored Fiji media today include stories like a 'chocolate factory is going to boost the economy'. What total rubbish!
Sugar and tourism are on the skids. sugar is now probably not recoverable.
Fiji's future is not, and never will be, in the hands of the military. Running a country is not their role, they are not good at it and it will never work. It will never be credible. Ever.
The first step in moving forward, which must be done immediately, is to get a caretaker government in power which has international credibility and support. And it must include members of those parties who were duely elected and deposed by the military. Secondly, the FMF must return to the barracks along with all military personnel given government positions. Thirdly, the military appointed AG, CJ and SG must be replaced immediately by international credible experts (NOT Sri Lankans under any circumstances). Finally, investigations which are oversighted internationally and independently, must commence into the human rights abuses which have occurred since Dec 5 2006. The time has come for action in Fiji before it is too late.
Anonymous said…
Croz,

Sorry not on topic but a really good piece on Fiji's economy and current governments performance by Pro Biman Prasad has been published:

http://peb.anu.edu.au/pdf/PEB25_2_Survey_FIJI_Prasad.pdf

Thought I would point it out as it might be worth a feature on your site. It is free of the 'spin' we get from the RBF these days. I've not always agreed with Biman and had a few healthy arguments with him in the past but this is balanced work and a few good suggestions as well.

Regards
On the sides lines in Viti Levu
Anonymous said…
Most of the human rights abuses in Fiji of late consist of people from other places undermining and with impunity subverting the justice system at all stages for their own gratuitous benefit. In this of course they are assisted by more-than-willing locals. Remember the witnessed Act of Perjury in the Sigatoka Court last December 2010? What did the New Zealand Law Society have to say about that - one of their own citizens defiantly caught lying in court and nothing resulted from the Magistrate's clear order? Very selective lot, the NZ Law Society! Shame on them. Why has not one of their number come to assist us with sorting this kind of impunity out? The very least they might do is to encourage New Zealanders who operate in Fiji to a) Pay taxes b) Desist in their attempts to hurriedly address their unlawful situation retroactively c)Restrain their illegal activities which impinge upon the freedom and peaceful co- existence of their neighbours: Fijian neighbours who ARE law-abiding and who DO PAY TAXES. The New Zealand, NSW and the terminally-gasping Fiji Law Society should get together on this and come to some agreement about how best to move Fiji Forward and to end impunity - to which they appear to contribute? We are watching their oh-so-skilfull attempts to deny any duty of care or responsibility towards us or their errant kith and kin.Are memories and our witness are well-honed and, what is more, we have sufficient evidence. What happens next will not be overlooked, you may be sure.
Anonymous said…
@ Moving Fiji Forward.....

Well, this all sounds 'comme-ci comme-ca' at face value but upon careful examination and reflection, it is nothing more than an elaborate hypothesis. Do you imagine for one moment that what is postulated might actually work in practice? You cannot possibly live in Fiji here and now? And you must understand the reality of the Fiji situation very ephemerally as a consequence. Listening this morning to a very credible assessment of the State of Play in Kabul, where 2014 was mentioned more than once as a benchmark date, that is more than applicable to the Fiji scenario. How you might ever credibly think that democracy and elections would solve 'Impunity Regnant' - one can scarcely contemplate. What exotic cocktail has induced such far-fetched rumination?

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