Fiji PM 'Disappointed' In International Reaction To Detention, Questioning Of Opposition

Bainimarama calls statements of concern 'without objectivity'

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 13, 2016) – Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is disappointed with "elements of the international community" who have aired their concerns on the detention and questioning of Fijians who had allegedly contravened our laws.

In a statement issued last night, Mr Bainimarama said some elements of the international community issued such statements without objectivity.

"The Public Order Act, among other provisions, requires any group wanting to hold a public meeting to apply for a permit from the police before the proposed event," he said.

In this case, Mr Bainimarama said, no application was made so the police were entirely within their rights to question those who have allegedly contravened these provisions.

"Those who attended this gathering were lawfully detained for questioning and there have been no allegations of any of their human rights being breached while in detention," he said.

"These included the right to legal counsel. They were released within the 48 hours that the law prescribes as the limit at which they can be detained without appearing in court."

He said a notable double standard was being adopted by certain countries in relation to this matter.

"They either suspend certain rights themselves when incarcerating their citizens or other nationals and in some instances, even on the mere suspicion of a remote threat to their national security.

"They have adopted practices and laws that are abhorrent to internationally accepted human rights values and principles.

"Other nations turn a blind eye to or are mute on similar behaviour on the part of their friends and allies."

He said Fiji had a sovereign right to make its own laws and in the case of the Public Order Act, it existed because of its colonial past and an unfortunate history of civil unrest in post-independent Fiji which could not be repeated.

"The statute in question is to ensure law and order, protect our people and maintain the health of our economy on which the welfare of every Fijian depends.

"Apart from having a plethora of human rights provisions, the Fijian Constitution goes further to state that the interpretation of these human rights shall be referred to international human rights law and standards."

Mr Bainimarama said the police was carrying out its independent duty and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would similarly carry out its own independent assessment as to whether these individuals should be prosecuted or not.

"Any objective assessment of what is happening on the ground in Fiji in respect of this matter requires an understanding and appreciation of the separation of powers between the independent institutions of the State," the prime minister said.

"The Fijian Government respects the independence of all these institutions."

Fiji Times Online.
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