Thursday, October 09, 2008

Qarase’s lost faith in Fiji judiciary

Qarase’s lost faith in Fiji judiciary
http://www.fiilive.com/ - 09/10/2008


Ousted Prime Minister Laisenia says he has very serious doubts about the independence of the judiciary in Fiji.His comments follow the High Court’s decision to dismiss the case brought by him against the interim PM Voreqe Bainimarama, questioning the legality of the 2006 military takeover.“On the basis of the decision given today by the High Court I have very serious doubts now on the independence of our judiciary. The fairness and justice they are supposed to uphold has a big question mark.”Qarase told journalists at a press conference the court’s decision has raised the issue of the independence of the judiciary. “The majority of the people of Fiji will surely believe that the decision has been colored by considerations other than the requirement to have an independent and fair judiciary. “Justice appears to be no longer the business of our judicial system. The judgment today has made a complete mockery of that system,” he stressed.Qarase said his Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party (SDL) will now consult with their lawyers to determine the next course of action.


Fiji High Court dismisses Qarase case 09/10/2008
Fiji’s High Court has dismissed the case brought by deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase that questioned the legality of the 2006 military takeover.The ruling on notice comes seven months after arguments on the case ended in the High Court.A ruling handed down by acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates – as head of a three judge panel including Justices Devendra Pathik and John Byrne – said they found that the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo’s actions during the period in question were lawful and valid. Other actions the panel upheld as valid and lawful were the appointment of Dr Jona Senilagakali as caretaker prime minister and his submission that Parliament be dissolved; the President’s decision to rule directly by promulgation; the President’s power to promulgate laws and the decision to grant immunity to those behind or involved in the takeover.Justice Gates said the panel did not consider it appropriate to issue directions on the conduct and timing of elections – a declaration sought by Qarase.The panel also found that the President’s actions during the period in question were valid because there was no other course of action reasonably available.“We find that the President’s actions were designed to protect a wide variety of competing interests,” Justice Gates said.“The Constitution remained and remains intact and we therefore find the President’s actions to be valid."No one has suggested His Excellence failed to act honestly, impartially, neutrally and what he gauged was in the best interest of the nation; that is, of all of the inhabitants of Fiji."It is not for this court to inquire into the details of his act at that moment on whether one action would have been better done in another way but it is certainly open to conclude his intention were to unify the people of Fiji."The case was brought by ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his SDL party two years after the coup.Qarase and members of his multi-party Government had asked the court to make several declarations, including the legality or otherwise of his December 5, 2006, ousting by the military and other ensuing events such as the appointment of the interim regime.It is understood that several legal actions, either before the court or yet to be filed, are waiting on the High Court decision today.


'President’s powers need to be reviewed' 09/10/2008
Ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has admitted the country does not need a Constitution or any law if the President has so much prerogative to influence the judicial system in Fiji.And according to Qarase, the High Court ruling today has been biased and influenced by the interim government.“According to what has happened today, the court has given the President in my view very wide prerogative powers and if he has those kinds of powers then the question is whether there is any point in having a Constitution or having any law at all. “The President can just rule by decree,” Qarase told journalists moments ago.“I think they have gone overboard in explaining the powers of the President in terms of prerogative powers.”Qarase said such powers by the President should be re-looked at seriously in future.He added the decision by the High Court today will encourage future coups, because all the perpetrators need to do is get the President to validate their illegal actions carried out during and after the coup.The panel of judges found that the President’s actions during the period in question were valid as there was no other course of action reasonably available.“We find that the President’s actions were designed to protect a wide variety of competing interests,” Justice Gates said.“The Constitution remained and remains intact and we therefore find the President’s actions to be valid,” the court ruled.Furthermore the court upheld as valid and lawful:• the appointment of Dr Jona Senilagakali as caretaker Prime Minister and his submission that Parliament be dissolved;• the President’s decision to rule directly by promulgation; • the President’s power to promulgate laws and the decision to grant immunity to those behind or involved in the takeover.

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