Christopher Pryde

Fiji shows NZ media and politicians up

When Fiji Police decided to arrest some politicians for breaching the decree in regard to authorised meetings the media and the left-wing all got up in arms, accusing the Fiji PM, Frank Bainimarama, of orchestrating their arrest.

Despite the facts that the Police acted on a ?complaint that had nothing to do with the government they all attacked Fiji and denounced the government, ignoring the rule of law and legal processes in Fiji.

Now, the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is independent of the government has declined to prosecute and issued a rebuke to the Police.

Prosecutors in Fiji have decided there is not enough evidence to charge a group of politicians, after they were detained for holding a meeting.

Six men, including leaders of the main opposition parties, were arrested and taken to police cells for not having a permit for the meeting, as is required under a special decree.

But Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions says there was no intention by anyone to break the rules. ? Read more »

Why are the Aussies surprised at their snubbing in Fiji?

It seems the Aussies are still up to their old tricks.

This morning’s Fiji Sun has a story which may give us an insight as to what awaits?NZ and how we will handle what is likely to be the same treatment at ?the Waitangi Day celebrations next week in Suva.

Top Government and Judiciary members conspicuously stayed away from the Australia Day celebrations in Suva last night.

It underscored continuing concerns in Suva over attitudes of Australian diplomats here, including High Commissioner Margaret Twomey, well informed sources said.

Among those not at the high commission?s function were Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

All were invited and all were in town.

It came at the end of a day when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had warmly praised Fiji in a message published only by the Fiji Sun. But in marked contrast High Commissioner Twomey same time barely mentioned Fiji in a message published by both daily newspapers.

This reemphasised concerns of a chasm in attitude towards Fiji. This is between the warmth of Ms Bishop ? potentially Australia?s next Prime Minister ? and hardline bureaucrats and diplomats working in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

These are the people who drove the now widely discredited failed Australian policy of trying to isolate Fiji. ? Read more »

Could Murray McCully sort out his idiot department over Fiji please

Fiji has had the election that was promised, it was declared free and fair by international observers but still New Zealand continues to insult Fiji via MFaT.

Frank Bainimarama has been sworn in after being democratically elected and still MFaT is meddling with advisories.

On MFaT’s Safe Travel website they state:

Fiji

And these words of warning:

Some government departments and statutory authorities are still headed by ex-military personnel.? The government also has a degree of influence over the judiciary and some media outlets remain cautious about reporting anti-government views.

The security situation in Fiji is currently stable, however the elections and process of formation of a new government may result in increased political tensions. New Zealand citizens throughout Fiji are advised to be security conscious at all times and to avoid any demonstrations, large gatherings and areas of military activity.

What a load of horse shit. Frankly that is insulting.? Read more »

An email from a reader

With my recent posts on Fiji I have received quite a bit of correspondence. But this email from a reader best summarises the sentiment:

Well done Cameron, I applaud you on your comments made on ZB.

Finally ,someone who has actually been to Fiji; taken the time to understand Fiji’s position and report accurately on affairs of state. As a kiwi who has had business interests in Fiji for 11 years, who typically spends 4-5 months a year living there I can say categorically that in our many dealings directly and indirectly with the government and its representatives, that the current regime; is, in relative terms to past governments, doing an outstanding job.

The Australasian position has been nothing short of arrogant and ill informed; we simply believe that unless it is a democracy it can’t possibly be good; yet we understand little of the reasons behind the coup, nor the positive changes bought about by the current military lead government.

I see the crack downs on corruption; government departments actually turning up, doing their job and working in a manner that is bringing equality for all Fijians.

I feel a sense of stability and as best as can be expected of any government, a people who feel mostly satisfied with the performance their leaders are delivering.

Recent posts/interviews on Fiji:

Whale in Fiji: Christopher Pryde

Whale in Fiji: Pio Tikoduadua

 

Whale in Fiji: Christopher Pryde

I recently spent a week in Fiji. I have become sick of reading stories in our media that didn’t gel with people I have been talking with in Fiji.

So I thought I would go up to Fiji and see how I got on with trying to speak to some of the key people in Fiji.

I was able to obtain interviews with?Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum,?Fiji’s Attorney-General, with?Pio?Tikoduadua,?Permanent Secretary – Office of the Prime Minister and with Christopher Pryde who is currently the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I was given free access with absolutely no restrictions on what I could talk about or ask. Readers will see in coming interviews that I publish the wide-ranging topics that I was able to cover.

As I mentioned in an earlier post access was easy to gain, I simply asked, and walked in thorough minimal security. I certainly saw no armed military anywhere. Even on the 4th floor of?New Wing Government Buildings where a cabinet meeting was in progress in the next room I was able to access the floor without any of the security palaver that I have experienced gaining access to just Parliament in New Zealand.

I have previously blogged guest posts from Christopher Pryde about the Law Society blocking advertisements for staff. I wanted to explore some aspects of that more.

Here is the video of my discussion with Christopher Pryde, where I discuss everything from the “smart sanctions” and how they have affect the fair dispensing of justice in Fiji. I also discussed the various warnings I?received?from media in New Zealand about my safety and the like. We also discussed Phil Goff’s statement about Fiji needing a free and indepedent judiciary before being welcomed back into the South Pacific Forum.

The improvement in women’s protection under the law with regard to domestic violence was interesting and also the Child Welfare Decree and also the new law preventing discrimination on the basis of HIV status. So far from restricting human rights in Fiji the government has in fact extended human rights to cover women, extended gay right,?decriminalising?homosexual?relations?and protecting those with a positive HIV status.

The prosecution of Laisenia Qarase for corruption was also discussed.

I found Christopher Pryde to be engaging and open. When I return to Fiji I will follow up with any additional questions that may come up in comments.

The focus in Fiji on knocking corruption on the head is interesting. They have establish the FICAC and there are signs everywhere asking people to report corruption. Their website shows just what sort of progress is being made. New Zealand still lacks an?Independent?Commission?Against?Corruption and we have the temerity to lecture Fiji on?internal?politics.

Tomorrow I will blog about my discussion with Pio Tikoduadua.

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Travel Bans Hindering not Helping

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Fiji, Christopher Pryde, recently gave a speech?at the recent Fiji-New Zealand Business Council in Nadi.

In that speech he outlined?the issue of travel bans against the judiciary and how it is dramatically affecting Fiji negatively:

…maintaining a properly functioning criminal justice system is not?easy. There are always resource and budgetary constraints and these?problems are not unique to Fiji. In Fiji however we have another?issue to deal with; that of travel bans against judges. In the past year,?from my experience working as the Director of Public Prosecutions,?it has become obvious that the policy of travel bans on judges and?on those senior members of the criminal justice system is wholly?misconceived. It is difficult to know what the policy is intended to?achieve and I have never received an articulate explanation.

On the one hand, we have every assistance provided to us at the?agency level and the recent drug trial is an example of this. After all,?the aim of this co-operation is to ensure that criminal enterprises are?obstructed. This is an obvious public good; not only for Fiji but for all?countries in the Pacific. But on the other hand, at the political level,?we have a policy designed to prevent the efficient functioning of that?same system that would prosecute and convict drug dealers.

The travel bans on judges have the effect of undermining the criminal?justice system by acting as an obstacle to employing locally qualified?and experienced people to the bench who, because they have family?in Australia or NZ or perhaps health problems that require trips overseas do not take up judicial appointment.

The hostile attitude shown by politicians at the political level to the?criminal justice system in Fiji is not limited to politicians however?and does not only extend to judges. We know that in Australia, for?example, lawyers have been warned that they may face disciplinary?proceedings if they take up legal positions in Fiji. In the case of the?Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the NZ Law Society?categorically refused to allow advertisements for prosecution?positions in Fiji to be advertised in the Law Society magazine Law?Talk without, I should add, any mandate from the members of the NZ?Law Society.

Such high handed actions would have the effect, if we let them, of?undermining the criminal justice system. They would also have the?effect, if we let them, of undermining human rights in Fiji by denying?ready access to justice for victims of violent crimes or by prolonging?the period alleged offenders are remanded in custody until a trial?date can be assigned.

These potential delays in the justice system as a result of travel bans?and threats to lawyers who take up positions in Fiji simply harm all of?us in society that benefit from a properly functioning judicial system.?It is no argument that all will be well when we have elections. Tell?the victims of crimes that they have to wait. It is interesting to note,?that during apartheid South Africa, no travel bans were imposed?on judges at any time and even in Fiji, following the Rabuka coup?and the dismissal of the judiciary in 1987, none of the judges who?subsequently took up judicial appointment were subject to travel?bans. This is a wholly new and totally misconceived policy designed ?to intimidate the judiciary and ultimately deprive the people of Fiji of?their rights under law.

Fiji DPP responds to allegation from British NGO

A few days ago the NZ media breathlessly reported, via Michael Field, that a bunch of British busy-bodies had prepared a report on the rule of law in Fiji after a sneaky undercover trip there late last year.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has responded to the report and since the NZ media continue to report in a bias and underhand manner all matter with regard to Fiji I am posting the response here:

Nigel Dodds, the Chairman of an obscure British NGO, Law Society Charity, has publicly spread false, outrageous and inflammatory allegations against the Fijian judicial system. The intellectually dishonest allegations follow a private visit to Fiji by Mr. Dodds in November of 2011, during which he claims to have interviewed many lawyers, judges and opposition politicians.

Mr. Dodds spent approximately four days in Fiji. Four months later, he is making an undisguised attempt to draw publicity for himself and his group as a supposed expert on Fiji?s judicial system.

Mr. Dodds never contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions or any other government official for his ?report?.

?The failure to solicit any opinion from people actively engaged with the Fijian legal system strongly suggests that Mr Dodds and his organisation are either being used by certain disgruntled people in Fiji to promote a political agenda or are being deliberately obtuse. Either way, the report is intellectually dishonest and does their organisation no credit.? said Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Christopher Pryde?

In an online critique of the report, one analyst asked, ?Is this genuine charitable work? Or subcontracted political advocacy? There is little of professionalism here.?

The report, which Dodds did not provide to the Fijian government, makes racist allegations against The Office of Public Prosecutions.

Mr. Pryde said, ?Mr Dodds seems to have a problem with Sri Lankan lawyers. The DPP?s Office recruits staff on the basis of merit, and is not concerned with a lawyer?s ethnic background but with their professionalism and integrity.?

Pryde added, ?The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in an independent office and the Director of Public Prosecutions has the sole responsibility for criminal prosecutions in Fiji. This is without recourse to any Government minister, including the Attorney-General. The Office is non-political and independent in its decision-making.?

The job ad the Law Society banned

I contacted Christopher Pryde, the?Director of Public Prosecutions in Fiji via email. I asked about the ad that the NZ Law Society banned and the details of the position. His reply:

There is only one at this stage but it is fairly high level. I had intended to advertise some more junior posts in a few weeks. I’m still always interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in working in the office.

This position, as with my position and all positions in the office are non-political which means we look only at whether there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect of conviction in court. As Director, the decision to prosecute (or withdraw charges) is mine alone and I receive no directions from any government minister and certainly not the military.

Here is the job ad the NZ Law Society banned:

The Job Ad the NZ Law Society banned

Law Society censoring recruitment of lawyers

The Law Society is now censoring recruitment advertisements in Law Talk. The Fiji of Directorate of Public Prosecutions wanted to advertise for qualified New Zealand?lawyers?for positions they have available. This would of course been a good thing with New Zealand qualified lawyers able to impart their knowledge and belief on the Fijian legal profession.

Instead the Law Society has banned the adverts essentially wanting to censor the advertising of jobs in Fiji.

Christopher Pryde, the Director of Public prosecutions says:

An email to the Office of the DPP this morning (3.2.12), said ?The New Zealand?Law Society Board has decided unanimously that the NZLS will not accept?advertisements for legal positions in Fiji under the current interim military regime?.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Christopher Pryde, said it was unfortunate?that the NZLS was involving itself in politics and preventing New Zealand lawyers?from hearing about job vacancies in Fiji.

?It is unfortunate that New Zealand lawyers are being denied the opportunity to?decide for themselves whether they wish to take up legal positions in Fiji. By?refusing to allow us the right to advertise, the NZLS is effectively censoring what?New Zealand lawyers know about Fiji.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in an independent office and the?Director of Public Prosecutions has the sole responsibility for criminal prosecutions?in Fiji. This is without recourse to any Government minister, including the Attorney-General. The Office in that regard is non-political.

This is the bizarre part of the Law Society’s action. They think that this is a “smart sanction”. In fact it is highly dumb.

What shall we do with people charged with rape or robbery or murder? Send them to?New Zealand?? he said.

Mr Pryde said he remains concerned that the NZLS continue to have an inaccurate?picture of the Fijian situation, in particular of the judiciary and the courts.

?My invitation to the NZLS still stands. They are welcome to visit Fiji and meet and?talk to anyone without restriction so that they can obtain for themselves a first-hand?appraisal of things in Fiji. In the meantime, we would appreciate the NZLS allowing?lawyers to decide things for themselves and allow us the right to advertise? he said.

Oh..so the Law Society has acted based on the inane drivel published by Barbara Dreaver and Michael Field, both of whom haven’t been in Fiji for some years and they also haven’t haven’t bothered to go anf find out for themselves the situation in Fiji.

Actions like this are stupid and hardly contribute to enabling Fiji to return to democracy. in point of fact they hinder the path to?democracy?by allowing the impression that?independent?bodies such as the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to be?maligned?as political corrupt.

One thing the Law Society has done though, by dabbling in foreign politics, is opened themselves up to a challenge for whatever status they enjoy with the Charities Commission.