FIJI INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CONTINUES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 5, 1999 – Fiji Daily Post)---Moves to scrap the Fiji Intelligence Service (FIS) have been put on hold because of legal complications.

As a result, the 50-odd employees who were to have been deployed to the Fiji Police have been asked to continue their work with the service.

The stay order comes amid efforts by the Chaudhry administration to push through legislation to scrap FIS.

While Parliament has approved the necessary legislation, the Senate threw the bill out and its fate is now with a sub-committee to decide.

FIS Director Colonel Metuisela Mua confirmed yesterday that about 50 officers have manned the operations of FIS.

"We will be working till such time until the legal process is completed," he said.

Colonel Mua said the officers were supposed to have been moved to other departments and ministries, but the Public Service Commission rescinded their appointments until the "legal process is completed."

Police Assistant Commissioner of Operations Inspector Jahir Khan said the FIS is still operating because talks are under way to iron out certain details.

In the last Upper House sitting, Senator Ratu Osea Gavidi moved that the bill be referred to a Senate Select committee for further consideration.

Senate Leader Afzal Khan said the importance of the bill has been highlighted through healthy discussions.

Senator Khan said a cornerstone of the role of the House of Review is to discharge that function effectively.

"The need for informed consultation, discussion and consideration of matters that come before the House is of paramount importance," he said.

The previous Government had recommended that the FIS was no longer needed.

Former Home Affairs Minister Senator Paul Manueli said as a member of the national security group, he has been worried about the way the service operates, in particular the "habit of targeting individuals and organizations."

Senator Manueli said the service was a waste of resources because there were two organizations trying to do the same job.

"They had the powers to do anything they wanted to do, and they, at times, were investigating cases which were also being investigated by police, and the rivalry was unhealthy," he said.

Senator Manueli said over the years he has managed to convince his colleagues that the FIS is a "child of the coup and has outlived its usefulness."

Senator Manueli said a retired senior intelligence officer, Julian Faux, of Britain, reviewed the FIS and his report was not well received by Col. Mua.

In his report, Mr. Faux found that the quality of intelligence in the police force is higher because they have a broader network and it has been in existence for many years.

Mr. Faux said combining the functions under one umbrella, which can be channeled to the police force’s special branch so it can improve the FIS’ performance, could save $400,000.

Meanwhile, Senator Manueli has urged Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry to implement Mr. Faux's recommendations.

"It will be in the country's interest to get the intelligence organization centralized," Senator Manueli said.

For additional reports from The Fiji Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fiji Live

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