News and Comments Wednesday 5 December 2012

REMINDER. TONIGHT IN SUVA. DECEMBER 5th. Public lecture on “The Nature of a Constituent Assembly” hosted by CCF, in partnership with the FWRM and USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs. Speaker: Renowned constitutional expert Professor Cheryl Saunders, University of Melbourne. Venue and time: Lali Room, Holiday Inn, 6:00pm.

HOW INDEPENDENT IS THE JUDICIARY? Gutter Press made this comment on last Wednesday's News and Comments:

Crosbie, your confidence that Fiji's judiciary does not bow to state pressure is not only misplaced, it is demonstrably wrong. The judiciary does not accept cases pertaining to any decree which has been deemed by the regime to not be subject to review. As such it bows to state pressure in the most obsequious way Whilst I accept that misuse does not remove use, in the case of the judiciary it’s also a matter of ‘by their fruits shall ye know them’.

I replied: @ Gutter press. This is a hard one. The job of any judiciary is to uphold the law. It does not write the law and it has no powers to change the law. In Fiji, decrees have been passed that cannot be questioned in law. You and I have problems with this. All laws should to open to review, and people should also be able to appeal against the law. But this is not always the case in Fiji at the moment. I would expect these restrictions to be removed after the 2014 elections and the reinstatement of Parliament.

My claim that the judiciary does not bow to state pressure is based on what happens when cases are brought before the judiciary. There, I see no evidence that the judiciary has acted in anyway different from other judiciaries, and I note that a number of judicial decisions have gone against the State. This suggests that, within what is possible, the judiciary is acting independently and responsibly, and is not bowing to pressure from government.

The decision to remove images of the Queen from Fiji's currency has been met with outrage from the country's chiefs.   Comment.  The reaction was predictably, not just among chiefs but also among ordinary people. Who on earth advised government on this one?

NEW JOBS IN SIGATOKA. Some 30 new shops employing about 150 people have opened in Sigatoka this year. The increase is mainly a "downstream" product of the tourism industry.

ANOTHER SQUATTER UPGRADE. More than 20 Kalekana, Lami, families will soon have proper sanitation as the groundbreaking ceremony of Kalekana Settlement upgrading took place today.  The $80,000 upgrade, that  will be a cooperative effort involving government, the Lami Town Council and the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights, is  expected to be completed next year.

   Click here.

 Fiji urges developed countries to provide climate change financial resources. Developed countries must provide scaled up, new, predictable and adequate financial resources to avoid a gap in their funding of adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries, the Fijian government said on Sunday.


Greg Bullard said…
The independence of a judiciary is a matter of fact and not a matter of perception. It requires checks and balances to ensure transpareny, accountability and integrity.

When lawyers can be referred to an oversight agency that is under the direction of the Chief Registrar who is under the direction of the Chief Justice,who in turn is under the direction of the Attorney General, that cannot be "independence". The Chief Justice can veto the proposals of that oversight body.

When Judicial oversight itself is placed under a Chief Justice, who can hire and fre with a quorum of one other, Judges cannot act independently. If they do something that displeases their masters they are gone. Please read Marshall's report Croz and provide your readers with your legal critique of the issues he raises.

People wanted to hear my story. I have sent parts 1 and 2 to 50 lawyers in Fiji. If one of them post it somewhere, you can form your own view. It details what happened in just a three week period. The CR and CJ together with the AG control the game. It is the antithesis of independence.

Croz, please refrain from making comments on matters in which you have no expertise. Please provide citations of the cases you refer to, that you say are "proof" of independence. I would be happy to provide a legal perspective. I am sure a number of judges and barristers in NSW would also be prepared to provide their legal anaylsis. Those of us who honour our oath, to practice our profession without "fear or favour"are disturbed by your comments, that you present without evidence.
Greg Bullard said…
Croz, let me remind you of what you told me via email on 17/11/12:

Greg, Thanks for this. I'll try to get some comments from Fiji before using it -- but it will be used. Can you tell me any more? I lack background. Sorry it turned out for you llke this. Best wishes, Croz

You attempt to portray yourself as impartial, yet you seek "comment from Fiji" before posting material. You may think you are assisting the citizenry of Fiji, when in fact you are misleading them. I have no vested interest. I will not be getting any paid holidays to Fiji.

Your comments on the justice system appear to be an attempt to humiliate and defame me. Please refrain from such attempts.

My motivation is the truth and to report what I saw and encountered. I am not trying to change anyone’s view. I am reporting the facts. You appear to be using your reader base to change or reinforce a particular view. I take no sides.

I appreciate some of the reforms that have taken place are very good. I provided the PM with proposals to restore legal profession and judicial independence NOW. These proposals were rejected. The Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar will continue to commit (potential) abuses of power/process and together with the ILSC Commissioner, perverting of the course of justice.

Don't take for granted the liberties and freedoms you have in NZ. Our systems are not perfect but neither are they diabolical.

Rebuke a wise man and he will be wiser still. Rebuke a fool and he will hate you.

The CR, the CJ, the AG and the PM, no doubt hate me. Where do you stand, Croz.
Shazzer Grubby said…
I am pleased you have such confidence in the rule of law in Fiji. It is very meaningless as you write from the safety of your Ivory Tower in New Zealand; a country which is always at or close to the top in terms of judicial independence.

Bullard has said that the following

“The judiciary, the legal profession and the ILSC are all under the direct or indirect control of the Chief Justice. This is a dangerous precedent. Justice cannot be done in Fiji until this is remedied. How it came to be like this can only be answered by the Attorney General and the Chief Justice.”

Now if that was an isolated accusation you could ignore it. But it’s not Justice Marshall has made similar accusations as have various Sri Lankans that have returned home before their contracts have ended.

I think you would agree that it is not enough for Fiji to have an independent judiciary if Fiji is to move forwards. It must be seen to have an independent judiciary. How do you propose we can make that happen?

I know of many investors who are holding off because they are not prepared to take the risk of putting their money into a country where the Regime can change the rules retrospectively at will.

I know of many businessmen who are not prepared to join government boards not because of the travel sanctions but because of the way they may be targeted going forwards.

I know of many people who do believe the courts deliver verdicts as directs by the AG. Now that may be untrue, though there is increasing evidence pointing to that being the case.

How do you suggest we get confidence back in the judiciary?

I would suggest a truly independent inquiry handled by an overseas body and the findings of the inquiry have to be adopted by the Regime.
Reality said…
This is an interesting discussion, but I do not see the point of it. The regime and its supporters claim that the the judiciary is independent and doing fine, the rest of the world sees the situation in Fiji for what it is: A garden variety dictatorship that controls everything including the judiciary.
Gutted and compromised judiciary said…
There is no confidence whatsoever in the compromised Fiji judiciary except from those involved or benefitting from the illegal junta. Khaiyum, Gates, Pryde and the Shammeems must answer for the destruction of the rule of law and for their acts of treason against the people of Fiji. If found guilty in a real court they should hang for their crimes.
Anonymous said…
Why did you join this illegal regime in the first place? It has been obvious from day 1 of the coup that thugs with guns took over a legitimately elected government. What has followed has been a dictatorship of treasonous criminals that has controlled everything including the judiciary. We cannot even find out how much these thugs are paying themselves? How anyone with any integrity and half a brain can voluntarily work for such terrible people is beyond my imagination.
Guess Who? said…
@ Shazzer Grubby,

That won't happen. Confidence in the judiciary can be restored easily if the PM chose that path. He could get Marshall back post haste. He is a great legal mind. The subjective components in his report can be overlooked due to the duress he was placed under by the AG and CJ.

He could liase with the DPP (as a stop gap Ombudsman) to consider charges against the AG,CJ, Madigan and the CR. The CJ and Madigan should have their assets frozen and be politely asked to leave Fiji.

The AG should be prosecuted ( if evidence could be established on Marshall's claims).If the charges were substantiated, he would spend a long time in prison. He will no doubt try to blame the CJ for his advice, but he has the ultimate responsibility. Too much has happened on his watch.

The CR should be given an affidavit of assistance, as his evidence would be crucial to prosecutions against the other two. He is young and potentially redeemable, even if he has made a mockery of his oath as a legal practitioner. If he is able to learn humility and courage, he could be a good lawyer in the future. He has learned some bad habits from his superiors. He is a bully and a coward enjoying his safety in numbers game. A little puppet if you will.

The PM should be given sovereign immunity. For all the damage he has let the AG and CJ inflict on the people of Fiji, he has done some good things. He has reformed so many institutions. However, the cunning and diabolical approach of the AG and CJ will continue to undermine him unless he takes drastic steps now to separate himself from these two. He trusts them. They are betraying him.

Unfortunately, the following scenario is more likely:

The CJ will make the AG a Supreme Court judge (immovable under current Decree). The PM will take over as President, so he can sack any PM and Government, and thereby maintain complete control, without the need for further coups.

It was obvious to me after reviewing the relevant Decrees that the CJ and the AG are preparing for the "future". Only the PM can stop them. He will be loved by many more if he can stop these men NOW. Graham holds the key to persuading the PM.

Greg Bullard said…
I might have half a brain, but don't question my integrity. To answer your question, I met with the Cj in Sydney March 2012. The role he described to me could not have been further from the reality. That is why I lasted three weeks. Another reason, I have many friends in Fiji from the many holidays I have had there. I came to serve them and the rest of the good people.

I was fooled. If I had no integirty I would have taken the money and kept my mouth shut. It was not obvious to me as to the true state of affairs in Fiji. It is hard to see unless you are on the inside. If you wish to attack my integirty put your real name on your next posting. I tried. I failed. Leave it at that.
rusi said…
Croz your assumptions on the judiciary appear based on some judges making some decision that go against the regime from time to time. Any news on what has happened to these judges? Didn't the regime throw a fit and scrap the constitution when actual judges declared the regime illegal?? Guess who? has a great plan for really wouldn't matter what proof was offered, Croz, your faith in the regime and their appointees is unshakeable.
^%$#@ said…
I think Greg will make a marvellous witness for the prosecution in the trial of the tarnished CJ Gates, it will all out and given his history of blabbing about cases at parties, there will be few more who will testify to the workings of the regime judges.
Anonymous said…
From what you have stated we should be questionning the integrity of the illegal junta appointed CJ - do you agree?
Greg Bullard said…
Absolutely. But in the case of the CJ he has no integrity to question. If someone posts my next letter sent to Fiji's lawyers you will get a clearer picture. Attached to it is a scanned letter that Madigan sent me. Everyone can form their own view. Madigan’s secretary was a client of RC’s. A conflict of interests does not get any more blatant than that. It also breaches the "Code of Conduct" for Judicial officers. No doubt the CJ will say Madigan wasn't acting as a judicial officer at the time. Tht would be a red herring, a conflict is a conflict. Ironic is an understatement.

The CJ ignored my proposals in that regard. The letter I sent to Fiji’s lawyers goes into greater detail. The CR and CJ create a problem and try and fix it by creating a bigger problem and so on and so on. It never stops. The RC matter is like the McCartney matter. The harder they go the more appeal grounds they create.

It is like the little old lady who swallowed a fly:

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
And so on.

Marshall would not be able to investigate/prosecute the AG or CJ, as there would be a perception of bias. But the PM needs a legal adviser and he would be ideal. I won't return any time soon. I am allergic to bullets.
Shazzer Grubby said…
I want you to take a tip from your fellow blogging whore, Crazy Welsh. He had a very good response to a test comment I made about that Greg Bullard magistrate. “I am confident the Fiji judiciary does not bow to state pressure. This has been demonstrated by the number of cases that have gone against the state. I did not discuss Greg with the AG and have chosen, for Greg's sake, not to comment on the issue. This is my prerogative. Please respect it and ask no more.”

That, dear Grubby, is the perfect way to answer an impertinent question and the one I expect from all my paid up propagandists. I have sent Crazy a letter of thanks and I have put his name forward to receive a commemorative medal from our Glorious Leader. He will receive a BRA (Bananas Republic Award) in the Glorious Leader’s New Years dishonors list.
Joe said…
Greg Bullard, look in your own backyard before pointing fingers at others. It took you lot more than 200 yrs to make a formal apology to the Aborigines for the brutality your ancestors dished out to them. You are crying foul now because things did not go your way. You must have graduated from the same school as those 3 appelate court judges who came up with a 50+ page judgement within 24 hrs, your compatriots. You may have lost sight of the fact that there is a govt. in Fiji which rules by decrees, and is undemocratic in your legal fraternity speak, but is much more democratic in nature, outside your legal bull crap.
Observer said…
Judiciary was compromised by SDL in he first instance when it appointed disbarred lawyer Qoriniasi Bale as AG.
The aim was to use Bale to give the SDL's dirty and illegal deeds a facade of legality.
SDL deported the expat prosecutor for getting too many coup convictions.
Where was concern about compromised judiciary then?
SDL was also going to use Bale to wrote legislation to spring the Speight coupists from jail.
Where was concern than?
These are just few examples.
Where was the concern when the SDL was committing rape and buggery of the judiciary?
I suppose it was a 'democratically elected' government doing it, so it was ok.
Indo-Fijians were the main targets, so it was doubly ok.
%$#@! said…
I can''t recall anywhere where any criticsm of the regime has not caused complete denial or abuse, yet when Croz 'markets' the regime in his blog, i see the expectation is that we all take it in, accept it as fact and be grateful for being ruled. I still find it amusing to see the the regime use Qarase as a bench mark and their 'well they were worse' excuse for everything they do. You have had six years, and still you moan about how the others were worse. Is that your measure of success??
karyn gray said…
That is true I really like her! I feel you're too sensible quality to mark intelligence! Thanks for posting
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