SUVA, Fiji (April 6) – It can well be argued that what consenting adults decide to do in private is their own affair and no business of anyone else – even if the law is broken. People of diverging views will no doubt represent both sides of this debate for many years to come. But once an element of exploitation is introduced, the tolerance of the people of Fiji comes to an abrupt end as two men found to their cost yesterday.

The two indulged in grossly indecent behaviour for the purposes of taking photographs and making movies to be sold later via the Internet. A tourist came here for the express purpose of doing this for profit. That being so, he was obviously in little doubt that a willing accomplice would not be too difficult to find.

And, according to the evidence heard by the Nadi Magistrates court yesterday, he was right. This, then, is a case of a man visiting this country in the guise of a tourist while at the same time seeking out a local partner for his disgraceful scheme. He would have known that poverty is a powerful motivator and he would also have known that poverty is not in short supply in Fiji.

In no time at all he had someone willing to take part in his plan – not only willing, but cheap, at least by Australian standards. This is almost certainly not the first time this has happened in Fiji but it is the first time the courts have had an opportunity to state the public’s mind on this grubby business. And the courts have not let us down.

The message is clear. People who come to these shores to pollute them and its people with their brand of perversion are absolutely not welcome and will be dealt with severely. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a growth in this kind of activity in recent times and police in Australia, for example, have been particularly vigilant in tracking down and dealing with the perpetrators.

It is a sad fact that Fiji is now on the radar screens for this type of criminal and it is important that they be stopped. Fiji has an enviable reputation as a wholesome, pleasant and welcoming tourism destination. It is a reputation built patiently over many years. Yet it can be destroyed overnight if the sex tourism industry is not kept well and truly out. We need to let the organisers and participants know that they will not be tolerated.

Yesterday’s decision by the court will be noted not only in Fiji, but worldwide. And if it makes such criminals think twice before coming here it will have done the nation and its respectable tourism industry a great service.

April 7, 2005


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