Temm: Go, See For Yourself

 The standoff, if it can be called that,  between Jonathan Temm of the NZ Law Society and the Fiji judiciary raises a number of important issues.  Temm claims the Fiji judiciary is not independent of political interference and  judicial procedures and decisions are therefore tainted.

This position has some  credence because there have certainly been instances when the Fiji government has brought cases before the Courts on tenuous grounds, where it arguably sought delays in proceedings  and where it tried to influence court outcomes.

But —and this is a very important but— in all cases it failed. The Courts dismissed the tenous claims; admonished prosecutors for being unprepared and delaying proceedings, and there was no influence on the Court decisions, several going against the Bainimarama Government.

Most court cases in Fiji are non-political. Lawyers, magistrates and judges are mostly needed for civil cases.  Without them,  innocent people will be deprived of justice, and the guilty will go free.

The most recent "standoff" is between the Fiji Director of Public Prosecutions, New Zealander Christopher Pryde, and the NZLS which will not allow advertising in its magazine for legal jobs in Fiji. The issues involved in this refusal are noted in the DPP press release below.  My main concern is that Jonathan Timm has repeatedly refused the invitation to visit Fiji to "see for himself."  This is an offer that is still open.

It speaks poorly for a trained lawyer that he refuses to examine all of the evidence but prefers instead to abide with his  prior perceptions. If this is so, one may fear for justice when those of different ethnicities, cultures or class call upon his services in New Zealand. Why does he not go to Fiji to see for himself? How many more invitations are needed?

See also Whaleoil's blog for his take on this issue.

New Zealand Law Society Censors Fijian Director of Public Prosecutions

The New Zealand Law Society (“NZLS”) has refused to allow the Fijian Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) to advertise legal positions in its magazine, Law Talk.

An email to the Office of the DPP this morning (3.2.12), said “The New Zealand Law Society Board has decided unanimously that the NZLS will not accept advertisements for legal positions in Fiji under the current interim military regime”.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Christopher Pryde, said it was unfortunate that the NZLS was involving itself in politics and preventing New Zealand lawyers from hearing about job vacancies in Fiji.

“It is unfortunate that New Zealand lawyers are being denied the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they wish to take up legal positions in Fiji. By refusing to allow us the right to advertise, the NZLS is effectively censoring what New Zealand lawyers know about Fiji.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in an independent office and the Director of Public Prosecutions has the sole responsibility for criminal prosecutions in Fiji. This is without recourse to any Government minister, including the Attorney-General. The Office in that regard is non-political. People charged with offences by the Police need to be prosecuted through the courts. What shall we do with people charged with rape or robbery or murder? Send them to New Zealand?” he said.

Mr Pryde said he remains concerned that the NZLS continue to have an inaccurate picture of the Fijian situation, in particular of the judiciary and the courts.

“My invitation to the NZLS still stands. They are welcome to visit Fiji and meet and talk to anyone without restriction so that they can obtain for themselves a first-hand appraisal of things in Fiji. In the meantime, we would appreciate the NZLS allowing lawyers to decide things for themselves and allow us the right to advertise” he said.


3 February 2011

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent office established under section 20 of the State Services Decree 2010. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is motivated by the principle that it is in the interests of justice that the guilty be brought to justice and the innocent are not wrongly convicted.


SOE said…
An Open Invitation to Mr Johnathan Temm (I believe this is his correct surname?) to come to talk at any location within the Western Division of Fiji as to why we must have NOW an Independent Director of Public Prosecutions Office in Fiji. Why?

Because since 1987, we have not. Indeed, in the mid-1990s and most certainly post 2000, the Fiji Public has been deprived of a competent and impartial Director of Public Prosecutions Office. We were supposed to be acquiring a NATIONAL PROSECUTIONS OFFICE funded in part by Aus/AID grant of AU$10m over three years (extended to five years). This in 2004.

This never eventuated to finality for reasons which are now known.

The failure to have a fully independent and impartial Office of the DPP in Fiji has contributed to an unravelling of Due Process which we have described elsewhere as 'scandalous' in late November 2009. This adjective was not used lightly. It was used twice for proper emphasis. Scandalous because we have had evidence since 2007 of the continual failure of Due Process in Fiji and this has undoubtedly taken place because of politically-compliant DPPs, incompetent prosecutors and corrupt Court Officials and Police Officers, timid and uncourageous investigative reporters (even when pointed in the actual direction of gross corruption with evidence). Perjury has been observed. It does not become more serious than this!

Let us finally add: successive boards of Transparency International within Fiji have also failed the Fiji Public by their indifference, their collective and individual 'deaf ears' when assistance has been sought from TI and their donors to raise the standards within the Court System generally and the Office of the DPP in particular. TI Fiji will have to live with this until they are brought collectively to account. They shall be because we will not desist from making known how they have failed ordinary taxpayers and investors in Fiji. Using the taxes of overseas donors to do so. Now what do we call that?
Walker Texas Ranger said…
The use of 'Entrusted Power for Private Gain' : the universal definition of corruption and it is going on in Fiji right under our very noses. This is not necessarily Serious Organised Crime: it may be as banal as someone just down the road whom you have bribed to get something done. Or, it may be bending the rules of Planning Permission to ensure you build or buy a second house. If that second house is funded by corruptly-obtained Public Money - so much the worse for us all. Have you no shame?

Are we all fools to permit it? Yes, we undoubtedly are. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, in Russia, in China and anywhere else you would care to mention, corruption is the use of power which has been allocated to anyone in any capacity to ensure that he/she will benefit. Using Public Money only enhances it and deprives society of its proper use: development.

The President of the NZ Law Society should get himself up to Fiji post-haste and find out how at first hand how he may assist in stemming this abuse without any more delay. Certainly, there should be no delay until 2014. That in itself would be an abuse and a scandal.
Exclude the Elite said…
A further comment" should the President of the NZ Law Society exert himself to come up to Fiji in person, then we do not expect him to meet with 'an invited elite'.

We expect him to put himself sufficiently out to meet with us, the citizens and taxpayers, the investors and residents of Fiji. It is we he must meet with and converse with. No one else. Cabals of the Elite - expressly excluded.
sara'ssista said…
BTW ...what would be the result for the fijian regime if there was indeed a visit and he came away with an adverse opinion? Would anyone be brave engough to publish it? Presumably they would ignore it anyway, true to form?
Beggars/Choosers and saying NO said…
"A Common Good rather than Privileges" - Who is the sole arbiter of reality in Pakistan?

A similar argument made by Transparency International based in Russia against the vertical 'Putin Systema'. A deeply felt sense of injustice and unfairness against an entrenched system. Is it corruption?

The 'speaking of ONE thing in Public and ANOTHER in private'.

What if Civil Society itself is part of the 'systema'? And do the donors of the NGOs care? Deploying the tax-based funding of other countries to skew (NOT skewer) of target nations.

Beggars may not be Choosers. Why do we so often appear to have forgotten this? Other than to say 'No', 'Niet', 'Sega'.
Spurious Justice? said…
Jonathan Temm will require a sturdy stomach if he comes up to meet with us. Is he up to it?

A Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning Home Invasion: threatened rape and murder, a family dog hacked to death in front of a terrorized family. That is what we expect an Independent Director of Public Prosecutions Office to PROSECUTE. That and all similar crimes of terror and violence (and they continue). There are no words sufficient to describe these crimes. Immoderate, insulting and filthy language posturing elsewhere demeans us.

Mr Jonathan Temm and everyone like him had better get serious about Justice and the Law. His hands and his conscience had better be 'Squeaky Clean'. Of course, remuneration by public money may well be a problem for him at this time? So why not 'pro bono publico'? Some of us have done this for more than eight years. What is your problem, Mr Temm? Are some more deserving of Justice than others? You eschew assisting the preyed-upon to find judicial/prosecutorial relief?

Is Terror to be reserved for the most deprived? Those who are preyed upon by assailants bent upon Terrorism even on a Christmas Day?

God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay. Remember Christ Our Saviour was born on Christmas Day!

So what is spurious now?
anonymous lawyer? said…

There are numerous examples of Khaiyum and Pryde, when he was Solicitor General, interfering with the judiciary. However to cite examples will lead back to sources and nobody in Fiji wants to be picked on. Now you have your sources in Government and they are reported in Fiji and they can obviously speak out. My sources on the other hand are unable to speak out for fear of retribution. If you are a judge or a magistrate it would probably mean termination. If you are a lawyer it would mean losing or not being able to renew your licence.

I know for a fact that the legal profession in Fiji is in frequent discussions with their counterparts in New Zealand. The NZLS has a very clear idea of what is going on in Fiji. This is very different from the picture painted by Khaiyum and Pryde. I applaud the NZLS, not that I think their ban will be very effective, but it highlights a major issue which the regime is busy trying to hide.

You have a problem, Croz, for someone who wants to present a balanced blog site. No one who has had bad experiences with the regime will share them with you because we all know what happens when we speak out. However, you need to hear their stories so you can get a real picture of what goes on in Fiji and not just what Sharon shares with you on Facebook.
Anonymous said…
may be we need some Australian justice, julian moti style and they are trying to teach us democracy. hahahahaha
The Business of Impunity Reigns? said…
@ anonymous lawyer?.....

If the NZLS "has a very clear idea what is going on in Fiji" , then why would they not be amenable to assist victims of Violent Home Invasions by choosing to help strengthen the prosecution and chance of conviction of those who have humiliated, violated and tormented them? This has been happening for more than fifteen years: over twenty in fact. Hardly isolated to one regime or another. It has become endemic and the violation of rights and privacy which it represents requires redress. Legitimate Governments, so-called, permitted this state of affairs. One of them sent Peter Ridgeway away whence he came and allowed an ineffective, apology-for-a-DPP to remain as Sole Operator. This encouraged a Climate of Impunity. Are we to assume the NZLS considers this a satisfactory state of affairs? If they have no position, then state this clearly. In the meantime, it is business as usual? The Business of Impunity Reigns?
anonymous lawyer? said…
@The Business of Impunity Reigns?

Are those the violent home invasions that are no longer reported in the press because we have no crime in Fiji under the dictator? To stop home invasions the dictator needs to allow the police to catch criminals and not waste time on spurious sedition cases and other political crimes which would not be crimes in any democratic country.

I am also not aware of any home invaders getting off because of the incompetence of the DPP.

To be honest no overseas lawyer who values his reputation is going to come and work in Fiji acting for the DPP or FICAC. Fiji’s legal system is not seen as independent by the rest of the world. Pryde may argue that it is independent but one thing he cannot argue is that the reputation of the Fiji judiciary is in tatters.
sara'ssista said…
Presumably NZLS thinks like i do, that the fijian military caused this issue, they should get themselves out of it. What gaul to go to NZ for help. Why is everyone else part of the solution? This regime has made it very clear they have all the wisdom and why fdon't they tap into any local talent , or do they not want to be associated with this regime? They regime has no 'right' to advertise in NZ or the NZLS magazine. Are they advertising in China and Russia for lawyers?

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