Fiji: Abuses Jeopardize Constitution Process

Fiji: Abuses Jeopardize Constitution Process

December 5, 2012

While promises of constitutional consultations provide some hope for democratic progress in Fiji, the sixth anniversary of the coup reminds us how far there is to go. The bottom line is that so long as the government targets activists and muzzles the media, a truly rights-respecting and democratic transition won’t be possible.

                    Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director

(Bangkok) – The government of Fiji should end human rights abuses that threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the process begun to draft a new constitution, Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said today in a letter to Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. Fiji’s interim government announced in March the beginning of long-promised consultations on a new constitution, an important first step toward 2014 elections.

The letter was sent on the sixth anniversary of the 2006 coup by Commodore Bainimarama.Human Rights Watch and the ITUC called on theinterim government to cease curtailing the rights of Fiji Islanders to freedom of speech, the press, peaceful assembly, and association. The military and police have arbitrarily arrested and detained human rights defenders, labor leaders, journalists, and others perceived to be critical of the government.
“While promises of constitutional consultations provide some hope for democratic progress in Fiji, the sixth anniversary of the coup reminds us how far there is to go,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The bottom line is that so long as the government targets activists and muzzles the media, a truly rights-respecting and democratic transition won’t be possible.

Human Rights Watch and the ITUC urged the government to significantly revise the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constituent Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012 to address concerns about the body’s independence. The decree grants full control over the composition of the Constituent Assembly to the interim government; the assembly has the authority to amend or delete provisions of the draft constitution with a two-thirds vote. Furthermore, the decree requires the inclusion of provisions in the constitution to grant immunity to government officials and security forces involved in toppling the democratically elected Qarase government in December 2006.

The Fiji government should promptly repeal the Public Order (Amendment) Decree 2012, Human Rights Watch and the ITUC said. The amendment, which the government announced in January just days after repealing the Public Emergency Regulations, broadly restricts the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The government has used this decree against people whom officials perceive are critical of the government, particularly representatives of civil society groups, trade unions, and political parties.

The government has also sought to dismantle the labor movement. In September, the authorities stopped representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from carrying out its mission to verify workers’ complaints about restrictions on freedom of association. The government has also used the Essential Industries Decree 2011 to undermine union activity in industries the government determines to be essential.
“Under Commodore Bainimarama’s rule, the governmenthas stripped workers of their fundamental rights,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary at the International Trade Union Confederation. “Work sites were militarized and trade union leaders beaten. Trade unionists are under constant police surveillance and police listen in on private union meetings. The trade unions stand firm to enforce international standards to protect workers and their union representatives despite the climate of fear and repression. The government must heed the growing call to respect these rights from the international community.”

The government should immediately cease media censorship, which it asserts through intimidation and the criminal law, Human Rights Watch and the ITUC said. The Media Industry Development Decree (Media Decree), which took effect June 2010, forbids publications that are “against public interest or order” and restricts foreign media ownership.

“Fiji’s abusive government has for too long benefited from the island nation’s remoteness,” Robertson said. “It should show it’s serious about constitutional consultations by taking prompt action to respect the basic rights of all its people.”

Find CCF guilty – Acting SG

The Attorney General’s Office is asking for the High Court to find the Citizens Constitutional Forum and Reverend Akuila Yabaki guilty of contempt of court.

CCF and Reverend Yabaki have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The contempt proceedings arose from an article titled “Fiji – The Rule of Law Lost” which was published in the April 2012 edition of Tutaka, CCF’s quarterly newsletter.

While making the submission before Justice William Calanchini, Acting Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma said the article published in the CCF newsletter is unfounded and unsubstantiated, and undermines the dignity and independence of the judiciary.

However, CCF’s senior counsel Neil Williams said the article contains no reference to any individual.

He said the article deals with questions of structures and the law.

Williams said it is nothing about scandalizing the judiciary.

He also asks the court to consider the justification of truth in this matter.

Justice Calanchini will deliver his ruling on notice.

Story by: Vijay Narayan & Tokasa Rainima

Govt positive of remaining in US GSP Scheme

Government is positive that Fiji will not be suspended from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme after having made oral and public submissions.

According to Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali, they also gave a post hearing brief to the US Trade Representative office.

Ali said in addition many submissions have been made by private sector companies and associations in support for the Fijian government’s Labour Reform policies.

Currently the US Trade Representative subcommittee is going through the submissions.

Earlier the Fiji Trades Union Congress(FTUC) and other unions wanted to stop Fiji from benefitting from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Scheme.

The scheme is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty free entry for up to 5,000 products imported by the US.

39 Fijian companies which export a range of products will lose their preferential access and benefits from the US GSP Scheme if Fiji is suspended.

This will mean agriculture, garments and the mineral water sector will lose their business, and these include small and medium enterprises that export niche products to the US.

Ali said ultimately, 15,000 Fijian jobs will be lost if Fiji is removed from the US GSP Scheme.

He said the impact will be felt at grass root level as more than 50% of the workers in these factories are women and are the sole bread winners in their family.

Story by: Ronal Deo

Police playing games about complaints ……. “all cases involving trade unionists who have complained of abuse at the hands of the military have been investigated but he can’t comment on any of them”

Fiji police can’t say if trade unionist has lodged complaint

Posted at 19:46 on 21 November, 2012 UTC

The assistant commissioner of police in Fiji says all cases involving trade unionists who have complained of abuse at the hands of the military have been investigated but he can’t comment on any of them.

A union leader Felix Anthony lodged a statement with the police in July, claiming he received threats and was assaulted by military officers last year because of statements critical of the regime.

There have been complaints of brutality at the hands of military and police personnel by trade unionists and the assistant commissioner of police, Rusiate Tudravu, insists they are all investigated.

But Mr Tudravu couldn’t say if they had received a complaint from Mr Anthony.

“Why should I tell you? Q. I thought this was an open organisation. Yes we are open and transparent but all I can say to you is that the investigation is ongoing and all cases that are reported to the police, we are investigating it.”

The assistant commissioner of police, Rusiate Tudravu.

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PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

The terms of the ILO are unchanged

Fiji unions hope for restoration of basic rights

Posted at 16:12 on 20 November, 2012 UTC

The Fiji Trade Union Congress says it hopes the interim government will restore basic trade union rights.

The interim government has invited the International Labour Organisation back to Fiji after it stopped a mission in September.

Fiji has again been cited by the ILO for being one of five countries where workers’ rights are being threatened.

The terms of the ILO are unchanged and the National Secretary of the Fiji Trade Union Congress, Felix Anthony, says rights done away by decree could be restored.

“The government has given its assurance it will abide by the core labour standards of the ILO and we hope that this time they are going to be serious about it and will act upon its promises to the ILO.”

The National Secretary for the Fiji Trade Union Congress, Felix Anthony.

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Government backs down on ILO visit …….

Fiji invites ILO mission to return after ordering it out of the country

Posted at 03:38 on 19 November, 2012 UTC

The Fiji interim government has written to the International Labour Organisation inviting its Direct Contacts Mission back to the country.

The Contacts Mission was mandated by the ILO to verify claims by trade unions of a lack of freedom of association.

A delegation to Fiji in September was told to abandon its meetings with the unions and to leave the country.

The director of the ILO office in Suva David Lamotte says the government contacted the ILO’s director-general this morning to invite the mission back in April next year, though they want it earlier.

“The earlier the better, before March, because the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, they meet again in March next year and one would hope that they would have some positive information in front of them that they could deliberate on. Which I want to stress the purpose of the Contact Mission. The Contacts Mission is not here to make judgement. That’s not our final scope is to collect information.”

Director of the ILO office in Suva, David Lamotte.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International           PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

UN labour agency names five countries where ‘serious and urgent’ labour-rights cases need attention

November 2012 – A key rights committee of the United Nations labour agency today identified five countries where it says worker-rights violations – some involving murder – represent the “most serious and urgent cases” among 32 examined at its current meeting.

Argentina, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji and Peru were singled out by the Committee on Freedom of Association of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) after Committee members reviewed cases involving rights to organize, negotiate through collective bargaining and engage in social dialogue.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43506&Cr=labour&Cr1=

More Police and Military abuse of prisoners……Aseri Vakaloloma says he believes his client has been denied a medical examination because the police are the subject of the complaint.

Fiji lawyer says client kicked and scalded by police

Posted at 05:32 on 13 November, 2012 UTC

The lawyer representing a man who is alleged to have been part of a bank robbery in Fiji says his client was assaulted by police during his arrest in September but still hasn’t been granted a medical examination.

The man is accused of being involved with five prison escapees who police believe committed the robbery.

At least four of the five escapees were hospitalised, including one who had to have his leg amputated after being captured in a joint operation by police and soldiers.

The lawyer, Aseri Vakaloloma, says his client was kicked by police when he was arrested at his home and has complained that he has been scalded with hot water.

“I think it’s only proper if he is in pain that he should be taken to the hospital because he needs medical treatment but unfortunately the court has granted him that but he is in custody at the moment and then he’s not been taken to the hospital.”

Aseri Vakaloloma says he believes his client has been denied a medical examination because the police are the subject of the complaint.

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Another breach of Human Rights in Fiji …….52 Prisoners beaten by 7 prison officers.

Sodomised inmate admitted in hospital

07:02 Today

 

Taken from/By: FBC News Report by: Mika Loga

A 25-year-old inmate is recovering at the Intensive Care Unit of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital after he was allegedly attacked by two other inmates.

The alleged incident occurred at the Korovou Corrections Centre last Saturday.

The inmates mother Hazra Bibi was unaware that her son was in hospital until she received a call from a nurse on Tuesday.

FBC News was reliably told that two inmates allegedly sodomized Bibi’s son who suffered severe injuries to his body.

Bibi has been trying to get answers about what exactly happened to her son.

She says her son underwent an operation and claims officials at the Corrections Centre did not tell her anything about her son.

The attack allegedly took place in the Yasi Dormitory at the Korovou Corrections Centre last weekend.

Seven prison officers allegedly physically disciplined 52 inmates in the dorm when they refused to disclose details of the attack.

Two inmates suspected of the alleged attack have been transferred to the Maximum Security Corrections Centre in Naboro.

Bibi says, she will lodge an official complaint to the Corrections Commissioner’s Office.

Last Saturday’s incident at the Korovou Corrections Centre brings to light yet again issues related to the human rights of prisoners.

Fiji Corrections Service spokesperson Ana Tamani-Tudrau says they’re conducting their own investigations and have also referred the matter to the police.

The officers were in fact commended for their gallant action.

Red Ribbon

A few years ago the current Commissioner of Police launched the infamous yellow ribbon project for the rehabilitation of prisoners. So much so that about a dozen correction officers lost their jobs for minor assaults on prisoners during his term.

This time around five prisoners suffered extensive injuries, with one losing a leg, at the hands of his officers using reasonable force. The officers were in fact commended for their gallant action.

Under normal circumstances such injuries suffered at the hands of arresting officers warrants an investigation. The onus is on the Commissioner to satisfy himself that the action of his men was reasonable if not illegal. He needs to allay the suspicion and the fears of the public on the integrity of our justice system.

For the police Operations Officer to blatantly declare that “having one of his leg amputated does not mean an investigation should be carried out to those who were involved in his recapture” is abrasive evasive and discourteous to the relatives of the victims.

The yellow ribbon in correction terminology appears to have metamorphosed into red ribbon in police discourse.

 

Ratu Vore

Fiji as the union movement sees us.

State crackdown on trade unions in Fiji

State crackdown on trade unions in Fiji

https://fijitoday.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post

The military dictatorship in Fiji are attempting to crush the trade union movement in the run up to alleged free elections in 2014.

During a negotiation regarding basic working conditions between the Fijian TUC and bosses from the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) – the police burst into the meeting and called a halt to proceedings. The claimed that their actions were a direct instruction from the government, and negotiations could only continue in the presence of the police.

The trade unionists present refused the ultimatum, and discussions subsequently ended. Despite assurances to the contrary, the Fijian state are making a habit of interfering in industrial disputes in this manner. In 2007 the TUC national conference was closed down, as the organisers had not sought permission from the government to hold a union meeting.

High profile militants have been arrested, or prevented from travelling, on phoney charges which are then dropped. Rank and file workers are being intimidated not to attend meetings. If they do, they are often kidnapped and beaten by the military. Most senior positions within the public sector and within industry have been given to senior members of the armed forces.

This blatant interference in collective bargaining by the Fijian state follows recent claims that they adhere to all international labour conventions and human rights. It is thought that the Fijian military dictatorship is attempting to suppress all trade union activities before free elections are due to take place in 2012.

Laughably, the police have apologised for their actions, and claimed to have acted on a ‘miscommunication’.

Fiji has been under a military dictatorship since a democracy ending coup in 2006.

Fiji Prisoner has leg amputated by after “resisting arrest”…..

Fiji escapee had leg amputated because of injuries inflicted by soldiers The shameful truth at last – one of the Naboro prisoners has had his leg amputated as touted by bloggers on this forum weeks ago because of injuries inflicted by soldiers during his recapture.

Bloggers said the prisoner was being kept away from public eyes because he’d lost his leg during the messy recapture.

It was also suggested the last prisoner to be caught, Isoa Waqa, had died after being beaten – a report Fiji police rejected as rumours with the threat they would charge those spreading them.

But today the Magistrates Court was told Epeli Qaraniqio has indeed had his right leg amputated for injuries ‘allegedly’ sustained during the recapture and cannot appear in court for another fortnight.

Qaraniqio was to have fronted more than a week ago with the other escapees but did not. Police again today failed to bring him to court with the  Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer, Lisiate Fotofili, telling Magistrate Janaka Bandara it will be two weeks before Qaraniqio can take the stand.

While presenting a medical report, Fotofili told the court the dressing on Qaraniqio’s leg was only removed on Friday.

There has been no official report until now about the prisoner being forced to have his leg  amputated. Fiji media at the time ignored reports of an amputation, following instead the official line the escapees were still ‘under medical treatment.’

Qaraniqio is said to be recovering at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital where he and the other escapees were taken after being beaten by soldiers.

All of the prisoners were kept away from general medical staff and were seen and tended only by RFMF medics.

Fiji has been divided on the violence meted out by RFMF soldiers and police in the recapture of the escapees, after they managed to elude them for some time after their break out.

Many have insisted the escapees deserved being assaulted by soldiers because they’re criminals.

We say today’s official confirmation a prisoner had to have his leg amputated because of injuries sustained at the hands of soldiers is proof the regime and those carrying out its orders cannot be trusted to uphold the law and to protect citizens.

Ratu Vore
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Naivalurua mum on injured prisoners

07:03 Today

Taken from/By: FBC News Report by: Mika Loga

Police Commissioner Brigadier Iowane Naivalurua is mum on the details of investigations in relation to the alleged assault of the five inmates who escaped from the Naboro Medium Corrections Centre last month.

They were admitted at the CWM hospital for injuries they suffered from their recapture.

They were hospitalized for about a week.

Some had their limbs plastered and needed help walking while one was on crutches they appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court.

They also had bruises to the face and limbs.

The fifth inmate is still in hospital.

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Police quiet on leg amputation of recaptured prisoner
Publish date/time: 23/10/2012 [13:03]

Police said they will not comment on the leg amputation of a recaptured prisoner, Epeli Qaraniqio until they see the medical report.
When asked by Fijivillage, Assistant Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu said nothing will be said for now as Qaraniqio is still in hospital.
He said investigations into the recapture of the five prisoners late last month is still underway but he cannot say anything further.     DPP lawyer Lisiate Fotofili has confirmed in the Suva Magistrates Court that Epeli Qaraniqio cannot attend court as his right leg has been amputated from an open wound.
Fotofili has asked for a two week adjournment.
The case will be called again before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili on the 5th of next month.
Qaraniqio is co-charged with Isoa Waqa and Solomoni Qurai in relation to the BSP and Wishbone robberies after the prison breakout.
Story by: Vijay Narayan & Tokasa Rainima

Police stop union discussions with PAFCO……. It was not even a negotiation but a general discussion of workers concerns………. despite assurances by the government to the US that unions can work freely in Fiji….

FTUC deplores police action which stopped union meeting

Posted at 00:20 on 20 October, 2012 UTC

The Fiji Trades Union Congress says it deplores the actions of police officers who stopped a meeting between members of the Congress, union members of the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) Limited and PAFCO management.

The FTUC’s National Secretary says the meeting began Friday morning at 10:15 am and at 11:15 am police officers marched in, disrupted the meeting and said they were under orders from Suva to stop the discussions

Felix Anthony says they were then informed the meeting could only continue provided the police officers were present during the discussions, a demand that was refused.

Mr Anthony says its still faced with authorities disrupting trade union work concerning basic human rights including workers’ rights despite assurances by the government that they can work freely.

The FTUC was meeting with PAFCO management to discuss issues faced by workers in the fish canning factory which were brought to light during one of their recent meetings with workers of PAFCO in September this year.

The FTUC strongly condemns this action taken by police and seeks an explanation on the legitimacy of their behavior, and demands that the names of those from Suva who had ordered such actions undertaken by the Levuka Police be revealed.

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Only in Fiji ..”Thank you for breaching the human rights of our escaped prisoners”

Officers thanked for recapture mission

13:01 Today

 

Taken from/By: FBC News Report by: Apisalome Coka

Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua has commended officers for the recapture of five escapees from Naboro Prison.

Brigadier Naivalurua addressed the officers at his 3rd quarter parade at Suva’s foreshore this morning.

“I would also like to pay a special mention to those of us who worked hard especially the recapture mission, I acknowledge your hard work this morning and thank you. You did a great job in the recapture of the unscrupulous people that terrorised Suva in the period of 7 days, so well done and keep up the good work.”

Four of the inmates have been charged while the 5th is still admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.

Judiciary once again acting illegally…………..Independent Legal Services Commission exceeds its authority as it is unable to close a firm that still has a registered lawyer for a partner………

Chaudhry law firm ordered to shut down

13:20 Today

Taken from/By: Report by: Edwin Nand

The Chief Register’s Office has shut down the law firm run by Rajendra Chaudhry upon orders of the Independent Legal Services Commission.

In a statement, Commissioner Justice Paul Madigan says the Chief Register has obtained orders from the Commission restraining Ronald Gordon and Rajendra Chaudhry from operating their law firm.

The offices of Gordon and Chaudhry in Suva and Sigatoka were closed this morning.

Staff and agents have been prohibited from operating the law firm.

Last week the Commission suspended Chaudhry for five years after he was found guilty of professional misconduct.

On Tuesday FBC News reported that Chaudhry had withdrawn from practicing law.

However, he said his firm was still operating under his partner Gordon and other legal staff within the firm.

 

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The commission said the firm was  practicing law without current practicing certificates.  The firm had applied several months ago but has not had it renewed and no explanation has been given….  PS   removing a persons living (Ronald Gordons) without due process is illegal but what can you do when the it is perpetrated by the “Independent Legal Services Commission”

Using the court process to punish the innocent…….Once again FICAC withdraws its charges after the defense has spent large sums defending a nonexistent case.

Daniel Whippy and Champak Kapadia Discharged

13:14 Today

Taken from/By:
Report by: Ritika Pratap

The Suva Magistrates Court discharged two former FBC Board members yesterday.

FICAC has withdrawn the charges against Daniel Kingston Whippy and Champak Kapadia.

FICAC Legal Officer Elenoa Leweni had informed the Court that after consideration of the representations made by the defendants and the materials therein.

A decision was then made to discontinue the proceedings against the duo.

Magistrate Yohan Liyanage granted the Nolle Prosequi application filed by FICAC, discharged the defendants and closed the case accordingly.

The labour situation is no longer a domestic matter for Fiji, it’s an international issue.

Fiji trade unions say international community is aware of country’s labour conditions

Posted at 17:46 on 07 October, 2012 UTC

The National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress has condemned the Government’s efforts to justify labour conditions to the international community.

The US is in the process of deciding if Fiji will be excluded from the General System of Preferences programme, which supports exports from developing countries, following a complaint from unions.

The Commerce and Employers Federation says conditions for workers have never been better.

But the trades union congress’s Felix Anthony says the international community is well aware of the poor labour conditions in Fiji.

“I think the regime would want the world to believe that there’s nothing wrong in Fiji, but as a matter of fact everyone knows what is happening in Fiji. The labour situation is no longer a domestic matter for Fiji, it’s an international issue. I don’t believe that the regime is serious when it attempts to tell the world that it is telling the truth and everyone else in the world is not telling the truth.”

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The condemning public might think more about the message and not shoot the messenger

Letter to the Editor (Fiji Times and Fiji Sun)

Professor Wadan Narsey

Violence against escaped prisoners

Many letters have been written to the Editor, attacking Shamima Ali’s call for the protection of the human rights of prisoners, while the police have also responded defending their actions.

It is understandable for decent law-abiding citizens to not care how prisoners are treated.    We all know of innocent people who have been robbed, physically and mentally traumatized, by criminal elements, without any compensation, or contrition from criminals.

Neither is there much compensation or thought for officers who are injured in the call of duty, while trying to apprehend escaped criminals.

Even though it is hard to define what constitutes “reasonable force” the police (and the army) also need to ensure that apprehending officers do not take the law into their own hands, by becoming prosecutors, judge and jury.

We sympathise with the Police Force who come under huge pressure whenever prisoners escape, when we all know that it is society which ultimately creates the criminals and the crimes, which we then demand the Police Force deal with.

But a just society has to ensure that escaped prisoners, however badly they may have treated society, are also given a fair trial by our judiciary, and suitably punished if they are found guilty,  but according to law.

Prisoners also have human rights and they also have loved ones, who are often filled with despair and shame at the crimes that their family members commit.

The Police Commissioner and the Commander of the Military Forces would be protecting  the integrity and humanity of their own forces if they conveyed a strong message to their apprehending officers: please do not lose control of your emotions, do not take the law into your own hands, when apprehending escaped prisoners.  Leave that to the courts.

The condemning public might think more about the message and not shoot the messenger, Shamima Ali, who has been a brave Commissioner for Human Rights of all people in Fiji, prisoners or otherwise.

However much pain escaped prisoners may cause us (and they surely do), for us deny their human rights to justice according to the Fiji laws, is to become inhuman ourselves.

http://narseyonfiji.wordpress.com/

Two injured prison escapees appear in court but the other three are still, after two weeks, unable to leave hospital. One, it is rumored, is in a coma from a severe beating.

Escapees in court

October 2, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by:

Josaia Usumaki and Tevita Sugu assisted by Police officers on their way to the Suva Magistrates Court yesterday. Photo: JONA KONATACI

By TALEBULA KATE

Two out of the five escapees that fled from the Naboro Medium facility two weeks ago appeared yesterday before Magistrate Janaka Bandara charged with resisting arrest and criminal intimidation.
Tevita Sugu and Josaia Usumaki appeared before Magistrate Bandara along with Rajeshwar Kishore Dutt, who is charged with aggravated robbery. The latter charge relates to the daylight robbery of the Bank South Pacific’s Samabula branch last month.
BSP have declined to disclose the amount of money stolen.
The three other escapees failed to appear yesterday as they are still medically unfit and further remanded into police custody.
State prosecutor Lisiate Fotofili informed Magistrate Bandara that Solomoni Qurai, Epeli Qaraniqio and Isoa Waqa were still unfit to attend court and needed more time to recover before appearing.
Sugu, with visible injuries, was taken to court with the support of police officers and Usumaki needed crutches to help with his walking.
Mr Fotofili requested if the accused could be remanded in custody and the matter transferred to the High Court because of its seriousness.
According to Mr Fotofili, charges against the accused had just been filed and no disclosures had been provided to the accused persons.

CMAG Final Statement on Fiji.

Fiji told to address issues of human rights and rule of law: CMAG

FLP WEBSITE

The Commonwealth has welcomed Fiji’s progress on constitutional talks but expressed concern at remaining restrictions on human rights and the rule of law.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) met in New York on 28 September and called on the interim administration to address the remaining restrictions on human rights and the rule of law “in order to create the environment necessary for credible constitutional consultations and elections”.

The Commonwealth reaffirmed its readiness to assist Fiji in “appropriate ways” and encouraged further high level interaction between the Commonwealth and Fiji.

Ministers emphasised the importance of “a constitutional process which is fully independent, inclusive and without pre-determined outcomes”.

CMAG’s concluding statement on Fiji follows in full:

Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Concluding Statement

28 September 2012
New York, 28 September 2012

1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) held its Thirty-Eighth Meeting in New York on 28 September 2012.

2. The Meeting was attended by Hon Sato Kilman, Prime Minister of Vanuatu; Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Hon John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Hon AJ Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Hon Bernard K Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Tanzania; Hon Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago; and H E Andrew Bangali, Ambassador of Sierre Leone to Ethiopia and the African Union.

3. CMAG Ministers unanimously elected Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, as the new Chair of CMAG.

Fiji

4. CMAG reiterated its commitment to supporting and encouraging Fiji’s reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family, through the restoration of civilian constitutional democracy.

5. Ministers welcomed continued progress in Fiji, including completion of the first phase of voter registration and commencement of the constitutional consultation process. Ministers welcomed the broad-based national dialogue on Fiji’s future taking place through that process, and commended the Constitutional Commission on its work to date.

6. Ministers emphasised the importance of a constitutional process which is fully independent, inclusive and without pre-determined outcomes.

7. Ministers expressed concern about remaining restrictions on human rights and the rule of law, and urged the Government of Fiji to address these, in order to create the environment necessary for credible constitutional consultations and elections.

8. Ministers reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s readiness to provide assistance to Fiji in appropriate ways and encouraged further high-level interaction between the Commonwealth and Fiji.

9. Ministers noted the decisions of leaders of the Pacific in relation to Fiji at a number of recent meetings, and reiterated the Commonwealth’s commitment to working in consultation and co-operation with regional and international partners.