Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Qarase Conviction Result of Political Manipulation of Fiji Judiciary by Illegal Regime


Laisenia Qarase was the last democratically elected Prime Minister of Fiji. He was overthrown in 2006 in a military coup staged by the current Fiji regime. Subsequently, when the regime hinted at future elections, he was vocal in his pronouncements that he would both stand in and win those elections. The fact that he would indeed win any election held under the existing Constitution has already been publicly recognised by the regime. Mr Qarase has been forceful in his criticisms of the regime. In 2009 he persuaded the highest court in Fiji to rule, in a case brought directly against the current alleged Prime Minister, that the decree making method of government engaged in by the current regime is unlawful. That decision was not appealed by the regime which has however since 2009 carried on with the pernicious practice condemned by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Qarase has now been convicted of certain offences of considerable antiquity reflecting back to the early 1990s and sent to prison for one year by an alleged Judge recruited from Sri Lanka. Most conveniently, that sentence would prevent him standing in the elections now promised by the regime.

The purpose of this note is to draw public and international attention to the fundamental hypocrisy underlying the conviction, and the sharp contrast between the treatment of Mr Qarase in regard to the offences of which he has been convicted, and the treatment of those running the current Fiji regime.

Readers would of course be familiar with the tradition, especially in Asian countries, whereby military dictatorships taking power in coups prosecute former Government heads to take them out of the running for any subsequent elections. Mr Qarase's case is a manifestation of this trend.

The body convicting Mr Qarase has no shred of independence, even though the alleged Attorney General has introduced a number of facades involving so called "independent" Commissions to effect sensitive appointments, the term "independent" being one of the most frequently abused terms in the regime's vocabulary. The body is appointed by, and knows that it is appointed by, an illegal military dictatorship, even if nominally it is appointed by a so called independent commission. It swears an oath not consistent with true judicial independence.

The attitude of the regime towards the judiciary is well shown by its virtually "revolving door" policy in regard to appointments.

The body prosecuting Mr Qarase - the Director of Public Prosecutions office - is subject to identical comments.

What of the assessors? They are subject to the directions of the alleged court. 

Thus, there is no grain of independence in the institution which has sent Mr Qarase to prison. The UK Law Charity Report and several other law societies have categorically stated that the Rule of law have not existed in Fiji for some years now. The Judiciary which reports to the illegal Attorney General controls and manipulates the judicial process through its Consultant Nazhat Shameem. This is a fact.

Further, the prosecution of Mr Qarase is an exercise in total hypocrisy because it leaves unprosecuted much worse offenders at the highest level and those whose offending is both much more recent and much graver than that of Mr Qarase. Prime offenders are of course the alleged Prime Minister and the alleged Attorney General. In the case of the alleged Prime Minister, charges involving the death penalty - treason - are apposite; also homicide charges and charges relating to his systematic campaign of rape, beatings and torture conducted at the Army barracks; in the case of the alleged Attorney General, a similar charge of treason and involvement in the illegalities of the alleged Prime Minister.

The alleged Prime Minister and alleged Attorney General ought at a minimum to share prison cells with Mr Qarase. For him to languish in prison and for them to be free is an exercise in ultimate hypocrisy.

Given this situation the Council is surprised that the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand have not publicly condemned this event and appear to be unfazed.

Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara
Council for a Democratic Fiji
6th August 2012

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