Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New crimes decree ‘overdue’

The new Crimes Decree which replaces the old penal code system Fiji used to have, is long overdue, says former High Court judge Nazhat Shameem.

Speaking to FijiLive, Shameem said the Penal code had become very old-fashioned and failed to keep up with the way human beings behave.

Neither did it keep up with the way crime is being committed, she explained.

She said for instance, computers are now a common mode for helping people commit crimes.

“Previously, it was difficult to prove if one used a computer to communicate with another to commit a crime, whether it would be a computer crime or who was actually committing the crime.”

Shameem noted that the new decree has a broader definition of communication including communication from one computer to another, or from a person to a computer.

“So it’s very modern and takes into account the way people behave these days with great reliance on technology.”

In contrast, the Penal code has been used in Fiji since the beginning of the 20th century.

According to Shameem, the first major form of the Penal code arose in the 1940s and was inherited from the Indian Penal code from the 1700s.

Other offences under the new Crimes decree, are piracy and people smuggling.

“Piracy used to exist previously, but now it’s a definition that conforms to Fiji’s international obligations,” she said

Some offences, particularly the more serious ones like corruption, cyber crime or sexual offences, have extra geographical jurisdictions.

“This means even a person offending out of Fiji, can be tried in Fiji, whether they are residents of Fiji or citizens of Fiji,” Shameem stated.

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