July 18, 2012
Amnesty critical of rule of law in Fiji
Updated July 17, 2012 22:40:48
Fiji has again been criticised for allegedly stifling freedom of expression, this time from Amnesty International.
The human rights group says it is concerned about the case of Tai Nicholas, from the Oceania Football Confederation, who was found guilty of contempt of court for reportedly suggesting there was no rule of law in Fiji.
Amnesty spokeswoman Kate Schutze said it was unlikely Mr Nicholas would have been charged had he made the comments in another country.
"I think in this case you wouldn't see the same types of cases being brought in Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom even, because it's not the comment of one person that undermines the independence of the judiciary," she told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.
"Here what we're seeing is contempt of court proceedings are being used to suppress freedom of expression and free speech to deny someone an opinion that has been expressed by a number of credible international bodies."
But Fiji's Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, said Fiji's contempt laws were in line with international norms.
"England, Australia and New Zealand all have provisions for contempt of court," Mr Pryde said.
"He [Tai Nicholas] wasn't put before the courts for expression of opinion. He was brought before the courts for speaking in contempt of the court."
Mr Pryde said there was "no interference at all" in Fiji's judiciary and said there had been no "concrete examples" to support claims to the contrary.
"A lot of these organisations, they haven't done a proper investigation. They need to perhaps look more carefully at who they're getting their information from."
Earlier this month, the Law Society of England Charity released a report which said Fiji had no rule of law or freedom of expression.
Chairman Nigel Dodds told Radio Australia he believed Fijians had no legitimate way to challenge the actions of the government.