LAST-MINUTE AMENDMENT LOCKS IN FIJI DEPORTATION

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Court can’t question decision of minister

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 2, 2008) – Deported Fiji Sun publisher Russel Hunter may not be able to appeal his removal due to an amendment to the Immigration Act on the day of his removal.

Australian Hunter was deported to Sydney on February 25, the same day the amended Immigration Act 2008 came into effect.

The relevant gazette published on February 26 said that an addition has been made to Section 13(2) (g) of the Immigration Act 2003.

It now reads: "Provided that and notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the decision of the Minister under this paragraph shall be final and conclusive and shall not be questioned or reviewed in any court."

Also Section 58 of the Immigration Act 2003 is amended by adding a new sub-section after sub-section (7):

"(8) No appeal shall lie from decisions made by an immigration officer acting in accordance with the directions of, or instructions given in respect of any particular case by the Minister."

Interim Immigration Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau said he authorised the removal of Hunter because he had "conducted himself in a manner prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, security and stability of the sovereign state of the Fiji Islands".

Ganilau did not clarify the specific actions that led to Hunter’s removal.

About the new law, Ganilau told fijilive to get clarification on the issue from Director of Immigration Viliame Naupoto.

Naupoto said the amended Immigration Act has nothing to do with Hunter’s removal.

He said the Act was passed by Parliament in 2003.

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