News and Comments Wednesday 23 May 2012

THE JET ON LINE. For readers seeking more news on Fiji visit Shalendra Prasad's  The Jet Online, a fortnightly paper published in Nadi with the support of local businesses and the City Council. All issues since January 2010 are available through this link.

INNOCENT PEOPLE JAILED. This from FijiLive: "Innocent people have been convicted of crimes on the basis of confessions obtained through police brutality or unfair means, says former Fiji High Court judge, Nazhat Shameem. “People who should not have been convicted for crimes, have been convicted of those crimes on the basis of police confessions made in custody,” she told the Criminal Investigation Department workshop in Suva yesterday. Shameem said in almost every serious case, allegations of police brutality and unfairness are made."

Unsurprisingly, the anti-blogs were delighted with Ms Shameen's statement though I doubt she has yet won enough Brownie points for Coup 4.5 to withdraw its allegation that the Shameem sisters and the Chief Justice have already drafted the new constitution (See Disinformation #1) or that she is  part of a Muslim plot  to steal Taukei land (See Disinformation #2).
What the local and anti-blog media did not report, however, was that innocents being jailed is not a new thing in Fiji. They could also have reported on the measures Ms Shameem recommended the police adopt to safeguard against injustice including, most importantly, the video taping of interviews. They could also have said the measures recommended were intended to protect those interrogated and protect the Police against false allegations.

Given these omissions, on behalf of FijiLive and the anti-bloggers, I congratulate the police for holding this workshop,  Ms Shameem for running it, and the Fiji media for reporting it.  It takes guts to admit to shortcomings, courage to seek ways to eliminate them, and a post-PER media to report them.   I will publish Ms Shameem's  full address to the Police Workshop on Saturday in the Weekend Readings.

WADAN ON THE CONSTITUTION PROCESS. Prof Wadan Narsey has a thoughtful and interesting paper in Coup4.5 on Prof Yash "Ghai's Dialema." He argues the 1997 Constitution still stands, and that nothing can be decided until a new short-term interim government in 2014 votes on recommended constitutional and electoral amendments, the GCC, the Charter, amnesty and the Bainimarama decrees.  I agree with some of his arguments, and am too untrained in the law on others, but I don't like the prospects for dialogue or for Fiji if the Commission simply follows his advice. Too much can go wrong on the way and Fiji could well see itself back in 2006 — as of course some people want. See Wadan's article on Coup4.5 or  here (without photos) on Mediafire .

FLP's SUGAR ACCUSATION RESPONSE. The Fiji Labour Party has responded to the Ministry of Sugar's statement, published  in this blog on  Monday, by saying its figures did not allow for the devaluation of the Fiji dollar and by refuting its claim that politics and unionism had impeded the industry's recovery. The FLP also attacked the Fiji Sun, saying it was "a puppet of the regime."

WILL ARABS HELP FINANCE RURAL ELECTRICITY? Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola was recently in Abu Dhabi to seek money from the Abu Dhabi Development Fund for Government's $9.5 million two-year Rural Electrification Project that aims to connect 200 communities (about 20,000 people) in the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu where the potential for grid connected rural electrification existed.

Ratu Inoke said Government recognized the importance of rural electricity in creating "a new dimension" of rural services in medicine, telecommunication, education and important social actvities. He said brighter lights will make studying easier, surplus food will be preserved in refrigerators, new domestic appliances will ease women's workload, and schools will have access to information technology, electric audio visual aid and be able to extend teaching to include computers, power tools and other vocational activities.

Ratu Inoke, pointing the value of the new embassy in Abu Dhabi, said he expected the project would be considered by the board of the ADDF in its next meeting. -- Based on article by Maika Bolatiki on Lemeki Delainukunawa's Facebook.

SCHOLARSHIP HOLDERS $10.6 MILLION DEBT. The Public Service Commission (PSC) is owed $10.6 million from scholarship holders for the past seven years. Permanent Secretary Parmesh Chand said they have been able to recover $6.3m over the past two years. “We have $15.1 million committed for the distribution of scholarships and loans,” said Chand. “To date we have provided 1080 scholarships and loans with 623 for multi-ethnic affairs, 411 for local scholarships, 32 student loan scheme, 8 overseas scholarships and six donors funded,” he said. As former US President John F Kennedy said: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Had he been addressing Fijians, he'd have said repay your debt. Your selfishness is denying others scholarships.

FEMLINK TO UN ADVISORY GROUP. Fiji’s Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, founder of FemLINKPACIFIC, has been included as part of a global civil society group to advise the UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet.


WTR said…
The jailing of innocent people is always a tragedy. It is thrice a tragic event; once for Justice itself, secondly for the individual concerned and their immediate family members and thirdly for all those associated with a miscarriage of due process.

Those of us who have spent ample time in the Courts of Fiji have no doubt that malign influence has been brought to bear upon court procedures and processes. This malignancy has not been yet fully expunged. It stems from corrupted Police Officers, corrupt lawyers and, worst of all, at times corrupt Court Officials.

The fact that a charged rapist has been permitted to flee from Fiji to Canada, bailed without his passport removed, able to obtain a Canadian visa and able to be constantly in touch with those associated with this alleged crime is just one example. It happened during the floods - this scandalous exit from justice. During the early mentions, the Fiji Women's Crisis assistants were seen to be seated right beside him in the court. The victim too terrified to come into the court. How and why was this man's passport permitted to remain with him?

Canada has an extradition agreement with Fiji. Will he be required to return? We most certainly would expect that he should. When he does, we shall be there waiting to see him appear again just as he should have done on April 4 2012.
Why bother? said…
Croz, I don't why you bother with Wadan Narsey. You know precisely what his agenda is, the retention of the 1997 constitution formulated by his brother-in-law Brij Lal. He is unrelentingly driven by opposition to the regime and will do everything he can to derail the process. Fortunately, time has got away from him and those idiots at ANU, plus Jon Fraenkel at Victoria University. What he proposes will never happen, so why bother promoting it? Fiji will soon have a new constitution and elections in just over two years time. That will be the will of the people and there'll be nothing this idiot can do about it.
Anonymous said…
'What the local and anti-blog media did not report, however, was that innocents being jailed is not a new thing in Fiji' oh well that's alright then , this is another thing the regime cannot claim success in?? So we can confirm after nearly six years of military rule they have not felt inclined to address this by any other means other than lip service.
Anonymous said…
It doesn't 'take guts to admit shortcomings' as you put it, they are publicly funded and servants of the people. What would take guts is to change. Which a talkfest will not address.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Why bother? We would be well advised to read and consider the views of others, even when we suspect their motives. Why? For at least two reasons: 1) So that we may refute fallacious arguments that may persuade and influence others; 2) Because parts or the whole of the person's views may contain truths, despite the motivation. This, in my opinion, is the case with Wadan's article. Hence my attention to what he writes.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Anonymous 1 and 2 ... It really would hlp discussion if you had a pseudonym. Please!!!
Anon 1. Of course the pre-coup jailing of innocents does not make present jailings right. How on earth could you think I thought such a thing!
Anon 2. Do you not agree with the general statement on guts? Would you prefer the police had not held a worskshop to help improve their performance, simply because they are civil servants who are paid? Of course it also takes guts to change but there will be no change unless the problems are first exposed and discussed. You belittle yourself and the honorable improvements you presumably espouse by calling this workshop a talkfest. Give credit where credit is due. The problem is not solved. There's probably a long way to go, but this is a healthy start.
Anonymous said…
@Croz, my point is that even the Fiji police are very good already at reporting their own issues wsuch as rises in particular crimes etc , but again always come up short on an solutions an tend to claim that all it indicates is more people are reporting crime!!??
Like the military they have these lectures about human rights etc, which perhaps the senior officers publicly embrace but it never trickles down to the grunt, who do all head-kicking (at times on orders)
why bother again said…
Croz, I admire your willingness to give other people their say. It's in stark contrast with your opponents, especially the "anti-democrats" at Coup 4.5. The problem is that Wadan Narsey continually does precisely what you've suggested here, feigned reason to push his personal agenda. If he was open about his position, fine. But he dresses up his polemics with a veneer of academic dispassion. The net result is a muddying of the waters, not enlightenment. So his agenda isn't the same as yours at all. It is anti-regime propaganda that wells from Wadan's hatred of Frank Bainimarama, the USP establishment and anyone who doesn't recognise his brilliance.
Anonymous said…
Oh good at least we can discuss this in term of a 'regime', but again 'anti-democrats' to opponents? This is a military junta. Police and military 'workshops are window dressing wher they express a 'hope' things will change. Well i 'hope' i won't get my head kicked in for speaking up or marching to promote my rights.
Kicking up the dust to obscure the argument? said…
@ Why bother again....

Mere obtuseness? Masquerading as a beneficent attempt to enlighten? That is why Professor Twomey is a useful distraction. But seriously, we are still bogging ourselves down in the purely personal. Why must we do it? Continually "kicking up the dust" to obfuscate the argument in view?
Time-wasting, de-energising, lacking illumination. We have all become so very good at it. To what useful purpose?

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