Peter Williams QC on Fiji

Peter Wiliams QC is a highly respected NZ lawyer who has on several previous occasions defended members of he ousted Qarase government.  He was in Fiji recently on Mere Samisoni's behalf.  

In this interview with Radio ZB he comments on the recently passed Public Order Amendment Decree. Listen to 
 what he has to say.

My only comments concern his description of the decree as draconian and worse than PER.  If fact,  the provisions he criticises were in PER so the situation may be as bad, but certainly no worse. And as a reader commented on an earlier post, many such provisions exist in other countries (and most were in Fiji's 1969 Public Oder Act). It is not what is in the decree (which caters for worst case terrorist scenarios) but how it is interpreted and applied. And for that, we have to wait and see.  He mislead listeners by saying more than three church members cannot meet without a permit.  The decree has no effect on church services. It is the meeting of
church administrators that requires a permit.  This is no different than  under PER and it came about because some Methodist church leaders (extreme nationalists who had supported the Rabuka and Speight coups) were using the church as a political instrument. Bainimarama's  point is that the church should not engage in party politics.  

His description of poverty and begging in Suva, as if they are a consequence of Bainimarama government actions, is also misleading. It is probable that poverty has worsened in recent years but it was extensive in the 1970s when I researched urban squatting.

His suggestion that Fiji is an unsafe destination for tourists was also a little guileless. Walking around many places at night is dangerous.I wouldn't recommend it in any downtown NZ city.

Comments

Yea yea said…
Billdust Croz, franks point is he does not want opposition.
Same pattern of behaviour said…
Croz
we have seen the same pattern of beaviour in other dictatorships eg Libya. It is obvious where Fiji is heading unless Bainimarama retreats to the barracks and accepts the justice coming to him. Fredom has a price. so be it. But democracy, freedom and the rule of law WILL return to Fiji and all junta perpetrators WILL be brought to justice. Watch the space.
sara'ssista said…
How about we let the QC interpret the decree....but i entirely agree that it is the interpretation and application that will show exactly what the reality will be given this regime does not tolerate dissent or criticism. I would imagine it would be no different to Zimbabwe where the government opponents are thwarted at every turn by intimidation,the lack or cancellation of permits and get attacked and government supporters seem to get every venue and location booked a year in advance and freely march around wherever they plz with an escort. It is worth noting where this regime got its advice and modelling for this decree, certainly not Denmark. Seems like a race to the bottom to me.
Open your eyes said…
Croz,

On many occasions on this blog you have talked about the necessity of lifting PER to allow for the discussions on the new constitution. PER has now been lifted Hip Hip Hooray. However, it has been replaced by the Public Order Act Amendment Decree. In your own words “so the situation may be as bad, but certainly no worse.”

Some of the contents in the decree are laws in other countries. The big difference though is that the courts are allowed to examine the actions of the authorities after the event. The police and the ministers are still held accountable by the courts. In Fiji that is not the case. To take it to its logical extreme a family of 3 tourists could be walking down the street in Nadi. A Policeman could decide they were holding a demonstration and then he could decide to break up that demonstration using a gun. No one would have any redress in the courts. Now I am sure that would not happen but it could and the fact that the police and military are immune means it’s more likely to happen.

Let me also tell you what a senior police officer was saying on FBC Fijian station. It was in Fijian but the gist is this. He was also speaking in a very aggressive manner. “I tell you people in the village. When you are drinking your grog you talk about things that matter to you. You don’t talk about the government. We have the power to come and take you away if you talk about the government”

Now that was broadcast by the Government owned radio station by a senior police officer. How can we have free discussions about the constitution and elections if the police are warning people not to talk about the Government?

Croz you need to open your eyes and really see what is in front of you. Khaiyum would not write these decrees without any checks and balances unless he thought the regime would cross the line at some point.

Fiji is a dictatorship and the dictator does not want to give up power any time soon.
Kewcee said…
Why is this guy Williams making comments when his client is before the courts? fighting the case in and out of court? Is it according to NZ legal ethics? someone should report this guy. but hold it, the NZ Law Society is not much better on Fiji issues?
yea yea said…
Hi Croz,

Check out your friends (ha, ha) at C4.5 they have a transcipt of a great interview with Mr Thompson. Well worth publishing in this more balanced site.

Regards
Yea yea
Anonymous said…
If Peter Williams had his own way, as an advocate of criminals, he would put the victims in jail and release all crims because they are the ones whose freedom and rights are trampled upon by the State. He talks about democracy and rights but ignores the villainy of the previous govts that were downright racist bigots. He ignores what the Methodist Church stood for. It had aligned with the racists to inspire them to persecute the pagans. The big Padres were at the forefront of the campaign, giving spiritual justification to the racists. Peter Williams makes me sick to the stomach for his arrogance and I do not know why he was allowed into Fiji.
If your worship pleases.. said…
As the line in Shakespeare's Henry V1 goes - "the first thing we'll do, let's kill all the lawyers". Too late. Our Peter has already shot himself in the foot and is bleeding so profusely we needn't do anything. This guy's disregard for the facts is astonishing in someone so supposedly eminent. Which only goes to show how standards in the legal profession have deteriorated in recent years. Any idiot can become a Queen's Counsel or Senior Counsel these days and Pete is the walking, breathing, belching proof. He and Mere Samisoni deserve each other. Enough hot air to bake bread but not to carry the day in court. Mere's big mouth has ensured that. Can't wait for the hearing and for these two to get their comeuppance.
Winston said…
What a fabrication by "Open your eyes". There was no such interview. And this QC should be summoned before the Ethics Committee of the Law Society. Also why shouldn't he be dealt with by Fijis Legal Services Commission?
sara'ssista said…
fascinating attacks on Peter W about his being a QC etc. Yypical rants about how he should not comment, not be 'allowed' into Fiji etc. Given Fiji needs respected legal counsel that is not tarnished by this regime or co-opted into 'consulting' roles etc I noet some very well known leagl people who were critics early stages of this regiem have neatly found themselves new income streams and buiness. Given the blankets refernces to 'racist' former politicians and governments, it is interesting that this label is applied when standing up for their people and promoting and protecting indigeneous rights. Can someone clarify, is the fijian military still 99% enthic i taukei? So they don't want this to change in a hurry then!!
Open Your Eyes said…
@Winston
That's an interesting name you have chosen. The most famous Winston stood up to a Dictator and led the UK through the 2nd World War until the most famous Dictator of all was defeated.
The great man will be turning in his grave that someone using his name is supporting tyranny and dictatorship
Open Your Eyes said…
I have posted this comment before but seemed to have problems. If you have already received then please ignore this

@Winston

I heard this on the radio whilst I was shopping on my lunch break on Wednesday in Suva.

I guarantee It is a fair translation of what was said by the policeman. And also I confirm his tone was very aggressive
Anonymous said…
PETER WILLIAMS IS JUST IN IT FOR THE MONEY< WHAT WOULD HE KNOW ABOUT FIJI OR THE RACISM PRACTICED BY THE METHODIST CHURCH?
Croz Walsh said…
I have only one comment: I would 'bet my bottom dollar' Peter Williams is not in it for the money. When I said he is highly respected in NZ, it is because he has taken up unpopular cases, several concerning civil rights, and some of these would have been at least partially pro bono. He may be mistaken in his interpretation of events in Fiji, but as always I urge readers to attack the argument, not the man.
We shall never surrender to Terror said…
@ OPEN YOUR EYES

Sir Winston Churchill had this to say of dictators and genocidal maniacs:

"We shall never, never, never, never give in". (NB Four repeats)

Succinct, so emphatic. And he won in the end. We shall never, never, never, never surrender to Terrorism and to all who give aid and succour to terrorists. No ideology will cower a civilian population in Fiji ever again. No taxpaying citizen or resident of this nation will ever again live in fear of The Nationalist Mob.

Our fathers and grand-fathers fought for the freedom of Fiji and the British Empire in Two World Wars: on the ground and in the air. To allow conspiratorial, racist thugs to terrorise free-born Fijians? A great mistake and a complete misunderstanding of who we are and what we believe in.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Sir Winston Churchill would have stood up to these cowards to the last man and woman: to all 'Who turn their backs to the People', leaving them unsecured and easy prey to attack: former Prime Ministers, Police Commissioners, Directors of Public Prosecutions-Gone-Wrong, Attorneys General and Ministers for Justice and Reconciliation. Where were they when required?

"It becomes very difficult to reconcile Japanese action with prudence or even with sanity. What kind of people do they think we are"?

( Speech to U.S. Congress
24 December 1941 : post-Pearl Harbour Attack).

"Give us the tools, and we will finish the job".

(Broadcast addressed to US President Roosevelt 9 February 1941).

"We shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender".

(Sir Winston Churchill - Speech in the House of Commons 13 May 1940)

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