Why Did Qarase Send Ridgway Packing?

"  There is next to zero knowledge about things like the plan to burn down Suva in 1999. Crooks like Duvuloco were even able to stand for election in 2006 when it's clear he should have been locked up with Speight. Something was very wrong with the Qarase Government when they were preventing Peter Ridgeway from completing his investigation."   - No Escaping the Truth, a comment on this blog.

This interview between ABC's Paula Kruger and Peter Ridgway, former Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions says something about the type of democracy that existed in Fiji between 2000-2006.

The World Today - Friday,17 June, 2005  12:38:00. Reporter: Paula Kruger.

TANYA NOLAN: A senior Australian prosecutor who has spent the past four years in Fiji, winning convictions against key figures in the 2000 coup, has been denied permission to continue working in the country. Peter Ridgway is the former Deputy Director of Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions. His contract expired last month, but he had requested a 10-week extension from the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, but it was turned down. Mr Ridgway's imminent departure comes amid increasing pressure on the Fijian Government, over its proposed Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. The bill would free people jailed for their involvement in the 2000 coup, if their crimes are deemed political and not criminal. Paula Kruger spoke to Peter Ridgway as he was packing up his home in the capital Suva.

The sticking point or rather the unsticking point seemed to be the Prime Minister, whose consent was required, but was being withheld.
PAULA KRUGER: So we're not talking of an administrative error here. We're talking that you weren't given permission by the Prime Minister to continue staying in Fiji?
PETER RIDGWAY: That seems to be the case. But what the motivation for that is, perhaps is not clear. The information that's been reaching me is to the effect that the Prime Minister was more than a little piqued at not having been consulted a good deal earlier on the matter, as protocol seems to require. His response seems to be as much the product of pique as anything else.
PAULA KRUGER: There's been some criticism within certain groups in Fiji like the Law Council about the upcoming Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. Can any connections be drawn between you not given permission to stay in Fiji and this bill?
PETER RIDGWAY: It's hard to draw a direct one, there are inferential connections, obviously.When I set about this process of prosecuting those responsible for the 2000 coup I knew that it wasn't going to make me the most popular man in town, with at least half of the population. And that's proven to be the case.
You'd be naïve if you went into this believing that you were going to be winning friends and influencing people. It was a hard job, and had to be done. So I never expected to be loved or even for that matter greatly thanked for it.

Is it frustrating, though, that you've spent four years prosecuting people over that coup?
PETER RIDGWAY: Oh yes it is, of course it is. Of course it's frustrating to see the process salvaged, virtually, from the wreckage of 2000, and made to work as it was properly intended, only to find that it's being unravelled for reasons which have very little to do with justice.
PAULA KRUGER: So those reasons would probably have to do with the election coming up in Fiji next year?
PETER RIDGWAY: Well, again, that's speculative, Paula, and to be honest, in my former position as Deputy DPP, I stayed out of politics. It was inappropriate to engage in the political debate. And it's the same thing with this bill. It is now part of a political process.

You're packing up today. When are you heading out of Fiji?
PETER RIDGWAY: Well, all being well we're expecting to fly out on Sunday week, the 26th of June. Now, that is a date of my choosing – it's not a date of the Government's choosing, it's not a date that's being forced on me.We're not being kicked out in that sense, we're merely… we have no further business here, and the time has come to go.
PAULA KRUGER: Would it be sad to leave?
PETER RIDGWAY: Oh yeah, very much so, because I have, in the last four years, I think, with all due false modesty aside, I've had a lot to do with resurrecting the rule of law and the criminal justice process in this country. I take a lot of pride in that, and I'm going to be very sorry to leave it behind me.
TANYA NOLAN: The former Deputy Director of Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions Peter Ridgway, with Paula Kruger.


Islands in the Stream said…
'There was something very wrong with the Qarase government when.....

Well of course there was. But who was saying so? Who was on the misnamed Think Tank? What was their considered advice? Who were these proverbial "Thinkers of Profundity"? Some of them sat on ten boards - at the same time......
Surely, these paragons had a clue? If they did, they said 'nowt'. what a shameful, ever so revealing exercise in futility this Think Tank was. Were they paid by the taxpayers? If so, for what? What does this say about the Fiji Voters in general and their exercise of democratic choice in government? A Cabinet of 36 taxpayer-remunerated Ministers and Ministers of State remunerated from ever dwindling coffers of state.
Anonymous said…
why is this article being re-printed?
anyway ridgeway had finished his contract and that was it. it was a simple employer/employee issue. at the end of the day the political process has to be allowed to continue - that was the only way our nation would have moved on.
Not Simple ... said…
@ Anonymous and 'a simple employer/employee issue...at the end of the day the political process has to be allowed to continue'....

Are you joking or what? There was nothing simple about this Ridgeway non-renewal and you know very well there was not. The political process took over to a place where Justice was never done nor seen to be done. The judicial process became a travesty of due process. Bad faith all over the place married to dishonesty and deceit. What a horrible recipe. No good could come of it.
Joe said…
What is the point of digging old graves Croz? You should be asking, "Why did Frank send the diplomats and news media editors packing", the latest casualty being David Roth. "A threat to national security and good governance" seems to be the buzz word these days, w/o any detailed explanation. There is no good governance in Fiji at the moment. What is he talking about?
depre said…
We all know there were problems with the Qarase Government. Frank noted all the failings of the government when he took over. Qarase's manipulation of the Legal system was one of his reasons for taking over the country.

Since then Frank or rather the attorney General has manipulated the judiciary.

If it was wrong for Qarase to do it. It is equally wrong for the Interim regime to do it now.

Croz you keep reminding us about how bad Qarase was, as if that justifies the Interim Governemnt to behave in a similar way. But far from learning from Qarase's mistakes and avoiding them this government has learnt how to make the same mistakes but on an even bigger scale.
Right on said…
@ depre said

Well summoned up.

When Qarase was making mistakes Frank was able to speak out about them. We all where able to even if many didn't.

Now when Frank makes mistakes everything is covered up. Mention anything about his mistakes and you will find yourself in serious trouble.

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