February 28, 2012

Fiji Regime pulls out all the stops for Multinational Forces observer chief

The illegal and treasonous military regime bows and scrapes as the lifeline of their longevity at the helm (ie continued jobs for their "idle hands") comes under the spotlight.

The seemingly phantom "Minister for Defence" manages to put out empty words of self-aggrandisement.

Satterfield arrives into the country today
Publish date/time: 28/02/2012 [10:07]

The Director General of the Multinational Forces Observers, Ambassador David Satterfield arrives in the country this hour and is expected to have a number of meetings before leaving the country.

Satterfield will be meeting with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Relations Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Minster for Defence National Security and Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga.

Satterfield will be visiting the National War Memorial and will tour the RFMF facilities.    

Commodore Bainimarama said Ambassador Satterfield’s visit is important based on the developments taking place in the Middle East.

Ambassador Satterfield is the head of the MFO and is based in Rome.

Story by: Vijay Narayan and Filipe Naikaso

February 27, 2012

ABC Radio Australia: Typhoid outbreak in Fiji

So much for all the CYA attempts and denials from the illegal and treasonous regime and their lackey's.

It is now official and the World Health Organisation has come in to inject some officiousness into what was clearly an inability by our own health officials to call a spade a spade.

Typhoid outbreak in Fiji
Created: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 21:14:44 GMT+1200
Last Updated: 3 hours 51 minutes ago

A public health emergency has been declared for two villages in Fiji - after an outbreak of typhoid in the Western Division.

Under the ban - which will be reassessed after 30 days - mass gatherings and the slaughtering of animals are forbidden.

World Health Organisation communicable diseases leader in Fiji, Dr Jacob Kool, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat, typhoid is always a problem in Fiji.

"Fiji has one of the highest rates in the world of typhoid fever," he said.

"But we know it always gets worse when there is a natural disaster."

Dr Kool said much can be done to lower the typhoid rate in Fiji.

"It just comes down to a lack of good sanitation and a lack of good hygenic practises," he said.

And Mr Kool said more needs to be done to protect water sources.

"People should not be using the river as a toilet as well as a source of drinking water and unfortunately in the Highlands of Fiji that is still a practise."

Australia Network News: Media freedom in Fiji

New Zealand Lawyer online: Rule of Law lost in Fiji says Law Society Charity

By Darise Bennington

The Rule of Law no longer operates in Fiji, the Law Society Charity (Charity) has found following a visit to Fiji in November 2011. It also concluded that there is no peaceful and lawful way to challenge government decisions, no democracy, that the independence of the judiciary cannot be relied on, that the competence and independence of the prosecution service has been reduced to an unacceptable level, and that the government controls and restrictions make it virtually impossible for an independent legal profession to function appropriately.

The Charity was set up by the Law Society of England and Wales in 1974 to fund and provide expertise to organisations whose work is related to the law and the legal profession with a view to furthering law and justice. In its January 2012 report, Fiji: The Rule of Law Lost, the Charity considers the effect on the Rule of Law in Fiji of the events of 2009 and beyond.

Of particular concern was the Administration of Justice Decree 2009, which removed “the jurisdiction of the Courts to accept, hear and determine, or in any other way, entertain, any challenges whatsoever (including any application for judicial review) by any person to the validity or legality of any Decrees made by the President as from 10 April 2009” (at 5.5). Also of concern were the Public Emergency Regulations (Regulations) which were first imposed in April 2009, and which have been extended every 30 days by the Government since that date. Under the Regulations, the State has control over the movement of every person, the release of press statements, publications, and broadcasts of all media outlets, every gathering of three or more persons, and meetings or processions in public places.

The Charity became involved in the issues affecting Fiji’s legal profession and judiciary, and the Rule of Law, following a request by the Commonwealth Law Association for its support in enabling the attendance of former Fiji Law Society President Graham Leung at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Hyderabad in February 2011. Both Leung and the Charity were asked to address the Conference on issues relating to the Rule of Law in Fiji, with the Charity addressing the issue of the dismissal of the greater part of the Fijian judiciary and the removal from the Fijian Law Society of the registration of lawyers.

Aware the Fijian Government had denied access to the UN Rapporteur to investigate matters in 2009 as well as a delegation from the International Bar Association, the Charity took advantage of its Chair’s private visit to Fiji between 13 and 18 November last year to investigate the issues for itself. “The focus of the report was to be on what action could be taken by external law societies and bar associations to support the Rule of Law in Fiji,” it said at 3.3.

The Charity noted that the Regulations made it difficult to investigate, as a permit was required for any meeting involving more than three persons. “[H]ence an interview could not take place with more than two individuals at a time,” it said at 4.1.

The Charity also noted that a notice is posted to the walls of the Courts stating that “no proceedings challenging the constitutionality of the Government’s acts can be issued” (at 5.6).

With respect to the registration of lawyers, the Charity found that the implementation of the Legal Practitioners Decree 2009 denuded the Law Society of the power to register lawyers, with the power given to the Chief Registrar, the first of whom under the Decree was a former Senior Legal Officer with the Fiji military. On 23 May 2009, Major Ana Rokomokoti removed the files of the Fiji Law Society after threatening to arrest staff if they did not hand over the files. “This was despite the offer of an orderly handover by the Society,” said the Charity at 8.3.

Since 15 June 2009, all lawyers have to have the approval of a government official in order to practice. Rokomokoti’s lack of independence was underlined, said the Charity, when she was arbitrarily removed from office on 25 June 2011. Her replacement is a Sri Lankan on a three-year contract, although the Charity noted that her tenure “is entirely at the will of the Government” (at 8.4).

Of the 300 or so legal practitioners practising in Fiji at the time the Decree was implemented, only one – Leung – took a stand and refused to apply for a practising certificate. “He is now an exile being unable to work as a lawyer in Fiji,” said the Charity at 8.6.

Another area of concern to the Charity is the appointment of former High Court Judge John Connor as Commissioner of the Independent Legal Services Commission, which now holds responsibility for hearing complaints against lawyers. “Under the Legal Practitioners Decree, charges are brought before the Commission by the Chief Registrar,” said the Charity at 9.1. “The Chief Registrar can pursue charges of her own initiative even if withdrawn by a complainant.”

The Charity noted that while there may have been dissatisfaction with the previous legal complaints regime – over issues of delay, for instance – there were problems with the current regime, especially with respect to cases involving the Government directly or indirectly, or where the lawyer concerned opposed the Government, or was involved in a case or had a client in which the Government perceives an interest. The Commissioner was also regarded as a supporter of the Regime, with the Society noting at 9.6 that “his acceptance of the post in any event calls into question his independence of it”. It also noted that the control of the prosecution system by the Chief Registrar makes it susceptible to government interference.

The Charity also considered the role of prosecutors under the new regime, and the impact of the series of dismissals of prosecutors since the “long-standing and respected” Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Josaia Naigulevu was dismissed along with the judiciary in April 2009. The most recent appointee to the role of DPP is Ayesha Jinasena, a Sri Lankan on a two-year contract. Said the Charity at 12.5, “The office of the DPP and that of FICAC became populated with the newly qualified and lawyers imported from Sri Lanka. The DPP was seen by her staff as largely an administrative figurehead and ineffectual in the control of casework.” Jinasena was sacked and ordered to leave Fiji on 24 November – due to “lack of confidence by the police” (at 12.8). She has since been replaced by New Zealand lawyer Christopher Pryde (who was previously Solicitor General).

The Charity noted that the judges dismissed in April 2009 were given no reasons, no notice, and no compensation for loss of office. “It is apparent that their sin was to comply with their oath of office and to act independently rather than any misconduct,” said the Charity at 13.4. “It is difficult to conceive of a more obvious attack on judicial independence.”

The Charity found that Chief Justice Gates had used his personal connections with Sri Lanka to recruit Sri Lankan judges in large numbers on short-term, renewable contracts. “The quality is held to be variable. Maintaining independence from government in their position must be difficult,” it said at 13.6.

The Charity noted in its report that these appointments are now being considered by a subcommittee set up by the Commonwealth Law Conference.

The purpose of the Charity’s report is to provide recommendations to the wider global legal community in order to ensure that Fiji returns to the Rule of Law. It has set out the following eight recommendations:

“The Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council reaffirm their recognition of the Law Society of Fiji as the representative organisation of the Fijian Legal Profession and urges this position upon the International Associations on which they are represented.

“The Law Society of England and Wales seeks British Government funding to provide capacity building to the Fiji Law Society in relation to the registration and discipline of lawyers such assistance to be offered on a government-to-government basis.

“The Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar intervene on behalf of individual lawyers whose human rights are impinged in Fiji and urge other national associations to do likewise.

“All national and international law society and bar associations urge their member firms to resist efforts to discriminate against individual firms in Fiji in transactions in which the member firms are involved.

“The Commonwealth Lawyers Association pursues the investigation as to whether those accepting office with the Regime can have their conduct reviewed under home bar rules and urges its membership organisations to do likewise and further considers how the issue may be addressed in Sri Lanka.

“The Bar Council in England and Wales and the Inns review the membership and qualifications of those holding office under the Regime and consider whether they continue to be justified and that other national organisations do likewise.

“That Rule of Law issues in Fiji be monitored on a continuing basis with regular reviews of developments by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the International Bar Association.

“All national law societies and bars lobby their governments to press for measures to be taken by the Fiji Government to ensure a return to the Rule of Law.”

NZLawyer \\ 24 February 2012 \\ Issue 178

February 23, 2012

Radio Australia: Expert says IMF report on Fiji economy says a lot

Updated February 22, 2012 18:03:04

An expert on Pacific economies says the International Monetary Fund report which criticised the Fiji military regime's handling of the Fiji economy makes for interesting reading.

Professor Wadan Narsey, Adjunct Professor at the Cairns Institute at Australia's James Cook University, says it's not usual for the IMF to be calling on a government to hold elections.

He also says that a close look at the report shows that there's been no real positive signs for growth in Fiji's economy.

Heather Jarvis spoke to Professor Wadan Narsey and asked him for his analysis of the IMF annual report on Fiji.

Presenter: Heather Jarvis
Speaker: Professor Wadan Narsey, Adjunct Professor at Australia's James Cook University
Listen here.

NARSEY: First of all, we have to keep in mind that the IMF focus on policies in developing countries is a very limited focus. They're usually worried about financial conditions, about exchange rates, prices, monetary conditions, the Reserve Bank restrictions and all that. They don't venture usually into areas of poverty and governance. And what is unusual in this report is that it has been produced together with the World Bank, which is far more interested in poverty issues than development issues and also in consultation with other organisations. It is throughout the developing countries, and including Fiji, you've got a lot of international organisations whose brief on development is much broader because the ILO talks about interested in labour conditions, UNDP interested in development in general. So this is indeed a bit of a new thing for the IMF to be suggesting that they need to have concrete plans to hold elections in 2014. And what they're not saying bluntly I think, the IMF is always very diplomatic, they can't go out and be to rough on developing countries and governments. What they are not saying clearly, but it's there in their report is that investment has absolutely sunk right down and it's not just a question of foreign investment, which has declined since 2006, but also local investment, and there are no real positive signs for positive growth in the economy. What the IMF does say is that the military government's expectations are much, much higher than what their own staff estimates are. So I think there's a lot of reading between the lines we need to do. The facts are very clear, what the IMF have produced and the World Bank have produced, one is that the GDP of the country, the real GDP is lower in last year than it was in 2006. So you've had negative growth which has just barely been counteracted by the two per cent growth for last year for 2011, so you're still worse off compared to where you were in 2006. And one area where they have relied on World Bank analysis which I think is wrong is that, World Bank analysis of poverty in Fiji is that rural poverty hasn't worsened, whereas if you use the correct in my opinion methodology of accessing poverty which is by income measures and not expenditure, rural poverty have gone worse by every indicator. So the poverty measures that people are looking at are comparing figures with 2002 with 2008 and 2009 which is three years ago.

If you talk about urban poverty going down, well that was true may be up to 2008, but if you talk to Father Kevin ... who works with the Wages Council in Fiji. He will tell you that urban poverty has gone much, much worse and his efforts have been pretty well not fruitful at all.

JARVIS: So in this report, I mean is the IMF really making a comment on Fiji's affairs? I mean you're saying that they're not you have to read between the lines, but it does seem to be out of character as you say for them?

NARSEY: Yes, but I think that they basically have come to agreement with the World Bank and others that really you need to restore investor confidence in Fiji, you need to have good governance. I mean, they don't mention, for instance, that for the last five years they've been no auditor-generals reports on government spending in Fiji, so people have no idea whether these numbers that we've been given about government revenues and expenditure are correct or not. One thing is for sure, the IMF is saying the government revenue forecast are going to be very difficult to achieve, especially when they've reduced corporate taxes by 30%, 30% or 40% and also income tax is at the high end. So their spending has kept on rising and the IMF doesn't say that the fiscal stimulant was due to an increase in salaries expenditure in the security forces, in the police and the military, because it's hardly the kind of fiscal stimulus that you want to see happening.

They do talk about the slow pace of structural reforms and especially they refer to the sugar industry, where the reality there is that a very large sum of money has been spent and the mills productivity has remained low, or has reduced. So I think the IMF is giving some very, very good advice in some areas, but the advice may get lost because they're, the IMF usual method of being very, very polite and diplomatic.

JARVIS: Mmm. So it sounds to me like there are some pretty fuzzy figures being bandied about and also you talked about structural reforms and the report says that Fiji needs concrete plans, it needs structural reforms. What's meant by structural reforms, what sort of things?

NARSEY: Well, I think the IMF usually try to encourage privatisation of government-owned enterprises. In the SSC, for instance, which is probably one of the largest public enterprises, the government has gone the other way.

JARVIS: That's The State Sugar Corporation?

NARSEY: Yeah, that's right, yeah. They've completely taken it over. And the thing about public enterprises is the reason why we are in trouble is because the heavy hand of government control and government bureaucrats and ministers and civil servants. They're not entrepreneurs, so they are not going to be in a situation to bring around any reversal of inefficiencies in public enterprises. So the IMF really would rather that they let go of all of these controls of public enterprises, but they find it difficult to say so. They do say, for instance, that there are far to many price controls in the place and you've got to admit that this Commerce Commission doesn't have the capacity to go and check on the prices of a thousand items every week and regulate it. The IMF says that the government is wrong and the Reserve Bank is wrong in trying to lay down credit growth targets for banks, because it can't force banks to lend, when there is a lack of bankable projects in place. And the reason why you have a lack of bankable projects is because the private sector doesn't have the confidence, that the military regime is not going to pass a military decree which says that you can't take your legitimate grievances to court and they have done that in a number of cases, including the well known case of the Pension Fund, with pensioners who signed contracts with the Pension Fund which have now allegedly by military decree been virtually halved and the military decree also says you're not allowed to go to court to challenge these measures. So there are other places where military decrees have sort of appropriated property. I think there was a case of the foreign investment in the Momi Bay and the company that went belly up in New Zealand and basically the decree said those efforts are going to be taken over by the FNPF. So the IMF it does say lots and lots of good things. You have to read between the lines to see where the good things are and it also says a lot of very, very worrying things, which are not given prominence in the summaries and the worrying things are all there. If you read the report with a good microscope.

February 22, 2012

Fiji's facade of open consultations

The illegal and treasonous is openly dithering with whether or not free speech can feature in their farcical constitution consultations and the IMF has come in with a serious blow to the regime's profile with the stark reminder of the throes of illegality that plague them.

Fiji needs to pave way for 2014 election: IMF
(AFP) – 5 hours ago  

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday called for the military government of Fiji to relax emergency measures in preparation for a promised 2014 election, a rare Fund foray into domestic politics.

In its annual report on Fiji's economy, the IMF said its mission team in the country had found the economy needed structural reforms and a "concrete plan" ahead of the first elections since a 2006 military coup.

"Removing structural impediments to growth is critically important. Many of the mission?s interlocutors suggested that relaxing the emergency regulation and establishing a clear path toward a 2014 election would be the key measures to boost investor confidence," the report said.

"The current government took power in a 2006 coup, relations with traditional donors are strained, and FDI (foreign direct investment) has dropped sharply, though emerging donors remain engaged and have provided assistance," the IMF added.

"Elections expected for 2009 did not occur, but the government has subsequently announced plans for an election in 2014 and provided an allocation in the 2012 budget for electoral preparations."

IMF comments on domestic politics are rare; the report was approved by the Fund's executive board at the conclusion of the review on January 20.

Fiji's military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama announced on January 2 he would end emergency laws in place since 2009, when a Fiji court ruled his 2006 coup was illegal.

The IMF executive board said in an accompanying statement to the report that Fiji faces a preponderance of negative risks "given political uncertainties, structural weaknesses, and the fragile global economy."

Questionable civil society bodies like the Citizens Constitutional Forum, better known as CCF, unabashedly think they do us all a favour by coming out with guns blazing and openly feeding into the frenzy of illegality by supporting the charade of a new constitution without any consideration whatsoever from the populace, and only lending weight to its political leanings.

In fact, the CCF's recent hosting of a visit by constitutional expert Prof Yash Ghai and his wife was just all too convenient. For starters Ghai admits in his own publication on page 18, that he is/was the "father" of CCF.

"The most critical organisation was the Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF). In December 1993 a consultation on reform led to the setting up of the CCF, which was to become the principal non-politically aligned group discussing the issue. This body was toa considerable extent the brainchild of Yash Ghai, who worked closely with Claire Slatter and Satendra Prasad, USP academics active in politics. Previously there was no forum for public debate and education on the matter. The initiative to set up a civil society group was supported by a number of academics and religious, gender and trade union organizations and funded by International Alert and later the EU through Conciliation Resources."

When the most recent coup erupted, Ghai "carefully, measuredly" and tacitly supported the illegal takeover.

It cannot be denied either that Ghai was teacher to, and oft cited in the construction of the Thesis of the the illegal and treasonous usurper extraordinaire, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

And now with growing support of some central voices of our civil society (such as those cited in Ghai's book) --  academics and religious, gender and trade union organizations -- now firmly saying something completely different to what CCF is pushing, the regime (and their supporters) and the reactives will continue to be most entertaining.

February 21, 2012

Radio Australia: Could NZ have stopped Fiji's 2006 coup?

Updated February 20, 2012 10:29:16

An article in the New Zealand Herald over the weekend suggests that New Zealand had the opportunity to prevent the 2006 coup in Fiji but let it pass.

The lead up to the coup in 2006 was a long and very public one.

Commodore Bainimarama made no secret of the fact that he was unhappy with the then Prime Minister, Laiesenia Qarase and the SDL party and unless he stepped down the military would take over.

The article "New Zealand foiled Fiji police commissioner's request to arrest Bainimarama in Wellington resulting in 2006 coup" is the prelude to a book expected to be released in two months time.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker:Russell Hunter, former CEO of Fiji Sun and first publisher to be deported from Fiji, and Leader of New Zealand First Party Winston Peters
Listen here.

HUNTER: What you're suggesting that there was more to this. Commodore Bainimarama was aware that the Fiji police wanted to arrest him on a charge of sedition, but couldn't get close enough, because he was permanently surrounded by heavily-armed bodyguards. At the same time, the Fiji police were also closing in on the murders of the CRW, Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers that followed the mutiny of 2000. To say that the Commodore was a suspect is quite wrong, but he was very high on the list of persons of interest and we do know that he had evaded at least two invitations from Police Commissioner, Andrew Hughes, for a non-caution interview, just a chat as Andrew Hughes put it. So there was also pressure on the Commodore and if any further incentive were needed for this coup, then there it was. If he had not acted when he did, he would very likely have gone to jail, so there were all these factors in play at the time.

COUTTS: OK, none of this has been born out.

Mr. Peters to you now, a direct quote from the article says that had Bainimarama been arrested in New Zealand, the Fiji military would have been unable and unwilling to proceed with the removal of the Qarase government. You were the then foreign minister. What's your account of it, is that correct?

PETERS: Well, the fact is that these are statements being made now, but if you look at the substance of it, there was never going to be any action of that type out of New Zealand, because there was no law to bring such an action about in New Zealand. The very idea of arresting somebody in New Zealand because of events in Fiji without any international protocol would have been an extraordinary irresponsible act for a country like New Zealand or Australia, for that matter to endure and I'm aware of the comments and suggestions and the planning of ideas, but it was never going to be a goer.

COUTTS: Russell Hunter back to you now. You suggest that there's Wikileaks information to support your claim?

HUNTER: Yes, there was. Well, I don't know that it supports any claim, but certainly there was at least one leaked cable that indicated that New Zealand Foreign Affairs. I suggest this was the Civil Service not the body politic.

The foreign affairs view was that there was next to no hope of a political or diplomatic settlement in Fiji.

COUTTS: And is that your account of it to Mr. Peters?

PETERS: Oh look, this is a bit more complex than it seems from the comments or views that appear in various, well diplomatic or international papers.

Remember, Bainimarama was involved way back at the time of Speight, not in a way that he seems he is painted as an angel for democracy. I think there's far more information to suggest that he was himself partly involved in it and there may have been a switch later. And then you come forward to Australian head of police, Hughes, making suggestion to our head of police, a man called Howard Broad, that such an arrest should be taking place. At the diplomatic level, they were told very clearly from the foreign affairs, New Zealand's point of view or foreign affairs was told we are not getting involved in such a serious issue without any international merit, without any international precedent to that. The fact is, of course, there had already been three coups before that, and it was very clear then and with retrospect from my meetings that Bainimarama was hell bent on doing this regardless.

COUTTS: And Mr. Peters, just sticking with you for the moment. Wouldn't an international incident being one of the allegations that Mr. Hughes and his family were threatened and had to do a midnight flit. They left the country in a hurry. Wouldn't that have been a trigger for the arrests?

PETERS: No, of course not. I mean the fact is this is an internal Fiji circumstance. We're very much aware of the fact that Hughes had to flee the country and his family, we could see why. If you are facing up to a coup at any moment, then the likely consequences of what would happen to the Commissioner were very, very clear, given that when he says bring Bainimarama in for a chat, that wasn't the intention. Bring Bainimarama into arrest him was what the intention would have been. Now that's all within the per view of Fijian politics, but it's not within the per view of New Zealand or international politics in the way that say these Wikileaks or these other documents might be painting them.

COUTTS: Russell Hunter, you also say in this article quoting again directly "Mr. Hughes, with permission from New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, the then prime minister Helen Clark accompanied Mr Qarase on a flight". He had already sent two senior officers, an assistant commissioner and a prominent detective to Wellington to liaise in the planned arrest. So it did get that far?

HUNTER: Oh yeah, according to Andrew Hughes it did and it's important to, to remember that again according to Mr. Hughes there was an offence in New Zealand for Commodore Bainimarama to answer. This is what the whole thing was based on that he had committed an offence in New Zealand and could be arrested. Again, according to Mr. Hughes there was at first agreement that this would happen and two teams from each force worked over a weekend to establish the fact that there was a case to answer and the exact chain of events after that is less than clear. But what we do know is that Mr. Broad eventually said no, we're not going ahead with this.

COUTTS: And on that point, he did have a change of heart. Can you shed any light on that Mr. Peters as to why Mr. Broad did change his mind?

PETERS: In regards to this issue, he might have been head of the police, but this is an international matter at that point in time and I did not believe for a moment that either Helen Clark or anybody else in New Zealand would have thought this was New Zealand politics that were in the government would have thought that this was a course of action that could have been taken. But they may have been talking about it from the view of these are options we might like to present for the government, but they had and would have got I believe no authority to even to put them into place. Because if you look at and the Pacific context, this was a serious, serious departure from sound international relations and the sort of relations are very important to New Zealand.

COUTTS: It was agreed according to your article Russell Hunter that there was a case to answer on a sedition charge. What do you really know about it though, because Mr. Broad has now retired, refusing to comment citing secrecy laws and Andrew Hughes himself has also remained silent?

HUNTER: Mmm. No, it wasn't a sedition charge. The charge they were contemplating was perverting the course of justice in a foreign jurisdiction. This was in relation to remarks that Commodore Bainimarama had made in New Zealand referring to his investigation for sedition. Andrew Hughes has told us that he at first was satisfied that there was a case to answer and that again, according to him, both forces were convinced that an arrest could, at least theoretically be made. When Mr. Broad who did actually comment to the New Zealand Herald in the end, saying that he was quite comfortable with his decision, but when he got back to Andrew Hughes to say well, this is not going to happen. Foreign affairs prefers a political solution, Andrew Hughes said he argues as hard as he could that this was purely a police matter. It was not a decision for foreign affairs to make.

Now there the trail goes cold. We don't really know what happened after that.

COUTTS: And Mr. Peters, is that your account of it as well, not much is known following that?

PETERS: Well, I think more was known than we're hearing now. But the fact is that the law upon which you would base any such interventions, that is the arrest of Bainimarama in New Zealand simply does not in the context that you've just heard exist. So on what basis would we be acting, that somebody wasn't potentially wasn't involved in sedition in a foreign land. Fiji is an independent country and this is extraordinary that the Australian policeman and I thought so at the time that the head of the Australian head of the Fijian police seemed to have a pretty raw understanding of where the boundaries were and this is a very clear example of it,

COUTTS: And Russell Hunter, do you agree?

HUNTER: Not entirely. I can see where Mr. Peters is coming from. It would have been in my personal view a very dramatic step for New Zealand to take. But both sets of police seem to have been convinced at least at one stage, that there was a case to answer in New Zealand and not in Fiji, in New Zealand.

COUTTS: OK. Just finally then Russell Hunter, you're sticking with your article and the coup of 2006 could have been prevented?

HUNTER: Oh yes, it could have been, yes.

COUTTS: And Mr. Peters, do you agree it could have been prevented?

PETERS: Well look, if you were to look at other options, for example, a more responsible military in Fiji, a range of leadership issues, but with hindsight one may not be able to use that defence of the chieftainship system in Fiji itself. There are a lot of things you could say, but basing it on the so-called intervention of New Zealand police, with respect to potential sedition offences in Fiji seems to me to have been an extraordinary based on which you make up this claim.

February 20, 2012

Quotable Quote: Thomas Schelling

[The] tyrant and his subjects are in somewhat symmetrical positions. They can deny him most of what he wants — they can, that is, if they have the disciplined organization to refuse collaboration. And he can deny them just about everything they want — he can deny it by using the force at his command. . . . They can deny him the satisfaction of ruling a disciplined country, he can deny them the satisfaction of ruling themselves. . . . It is a bargaining situation in which either side, if adequately disciplined and organized, can deny most of what the other wants, and it remains to see who wins.

February 15, 2012

Murderer sacks civil servants over "sick sheet scam"

More workers sacked in relation to sick sheet scam
Publish date/time: 15/02/2012 [07:32]

Another 56 workers of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities were sacked yesterday after their involvement in a sick sheet scam.

Permanent Secretary for Works Commander Francis Kean said they have taken the step after analyzing all the evidence and seeking the advice of the Public Service Commission and the Solicitor General’s Office.

The 56 workers went home yesterday after the earlier sacking of 58 workers in December in relation to a similar sick sheet scam.

When questioned by Fijivillage on whether the problem has been fully dealt with, Commander Kean said the matter will not end here.              

He said the message to all staff of the Ministry from day one since taking office is to commit to an honest day’s work.

Commander Kean said the actions of these workers are in total contrast to the message that has been delivered to them and is a blatant disregard of the terms and conditions of their employment as Government Wage Earners.

The same medical doctor from Nausori was involved in the case and the Ministry of Health has been advised of the outcome of the investigations.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

February 10, 2012

IFJ Aust Pacific: Caution Advised Over Fiji’s New Decree

10 February 2012

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in advising caution regarding the latest media-related decree issued by Fiji’s authorities.

The new state proceedings decree, signed off by Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on January 19, grants full exemption from defamation claims for any private or public statements made by the regime’s leader and his ministers.

The decree, in effect, attempts to extend the notion of parliamentary privilege to all statements made by members of parliament.

The regime issued a statement the same week, claiming the decree will strengthen public discussion and consultation in the lead-up to planned national elections in 2014.

“The IFJ joins the PFF in questioning how the new decree will benefit transparency and good governance in Fiji”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.

“Removing parliamentarians from the defamation and libel restrictions that apply to all non-parliamentarian Fiji Islanders is unlikely to promote open public debate ahead of the 2014 elections.

The IFJ joins the PFF in arguing that the best way to encourage positive public discussion is to ensure all people, including the media, have the right to ask legitimate questions of government, and hold public figures accountable for their statements”.

The new decree follows the recent announcement by Commodore Frank Bainimarama during his New Year’s address to the nation that the existing media regulations, in place since April 2009, would be removed to allow preparations for the drafting of a new national constitution.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific 

February 09, 2012

Nazhat Shameem's ICC dreams finally realized

Last year, we broke the news that the illegal and treasonous and former judge of the High Court, Nazhat Shameem was vying for a spot on the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sources are now revealing that Shameem in fact, (and proudly reiterated on her website) is a Member of the Advisory Council for the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice on the International Criminal Court.

The fact that Shameem could one day be hauled up to the ICC as a key aidder and abettor of the illegal and treasonous thugs instigating crimes against the humanity against the people of Fiji, will be most entertaining.

Equally interesting is an interview Nazhat Shameem gave to the Soroptomists Club in Lautoka in May 2008:

Justice Nazhat Shameem gave an address in May 2008 to the Soroptimists Club when she said, "You have asked me to speak about women and our society.  That is a subject dear to my heart.  The experiences of women in our society, the way gender, culture and ethnicity colour other people’s perceptions of women and how those perceptions in turn derail the initiatives of women, are matters I am very familiar with.  Perceptions of women are driven by gender stereotypes.  They are not founded on reality. But they destroy women’s chances of a level playing field..." 

To read the address see: Address to the Soroptimists Club at the launch of the Lautoka Chapter May 10th  2008 by Justice Nazhat Shameem. High Court, Fiji


Interview with Justice Nazhat Shameem
Q1. What experiences and insights have led you towards choosing a legal career?

A1. I went to a multi-racial school in Fiji, and I was a compulsive reader.  My mother was a school-teacher and my father a poet, philosopher and playwright.  I always saw the law as a vehicle for non-violent social change.  The concept of equality before the law I saw as protecting the underdog and disadvantaged from the tyranny of the majority.  The combination of my home and school environment, with everything I read about the law, led me to choose the law as my career.

Q2. How did you break through the “glass ceiling” and are there similar opportunities for other women in law or other fields in Fiji?

A2. Fiji’s glass ceiling is tough, because our community is driven by both ethnicity and patriarchy.  I am a Muslim, Indo-Fijian woman, and the combination of my race, religion and gender is very hard for many people to stomach.  I was made Director of Public Prosecutions in 1994, after acting in that position for one year.  I believe I was appointed firstly because there had been a severe “brain drain” after Fiji’s 1987 coup, and secondly because I always maintained a non-political position in the highly charged political atmosphere surrounding our legal system post-1987.  The hard part was not the breaking through, but was the maintenance of my position after my appointment.  Sexual stereotyping led many to try to pressurize me or manipulate or simply to bully me, into furthering particular economic/legal/political positions.  It was a most difficult and testing time.

 Ten years later, there are many more women who hold senior legal and judicial positions.

Q3. What have been some of the positives and negatives of being at the top of your profession and the only Indo-Fijian female Judge in Fiji’s High Court?

A3. The most rewarding part of being in a position of leadership, is that you are in a position to forge social and legal changes.  You can persuade governments to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Commissioners of Police to set up specialized units for offences against women and children, and Ministers of Education to abolish corporal punishment in schools.

But the down side is that the more change you personally drive, the more of a threat you become to the establishment.  So the stronger and the more determined you become to effect change through the law, the more you become the victim of stereotypical and hostile attacks.  The stereotypes accompanying the strong woman image, are then compounded by racial stereotypes accompanying the Indo-Fijian.  And in recent years since September 11th, the stereotypes accompanying the Muslim.  So in turn, I have been called hostile, spiteful, manipulative, devious, cunning and power-hungry.  It is not surprising that many women in Fiji decide that it is too difficult to continue to forge change.  For all the rewards attached to my position as an Indo-Fijian female High Court judge, there are an equivalent number of sanctions.

Q4. From a legal perspective, what have been some of your observations about women’s conditions in Fiji and the impact of crime and justice on their lives?

A4. In my opinion, women in Fiji continue to be affected adversely by poverty, lack of education, lack of access to housing, legal services, and civil services, and by the legal system.  Although our courts have abolished the law on corroboration in sexual cases, and although our Constitution guarantees the right to equality and freedom from gender discrimination, the women in Fiji remain disadvantaged in real terms.  As I have said, Fiji has deeply entrenched patriarchal communities.  There is a danger that judgments and laws which declare the right to equality have no real meaning to the lives of most of our women.

Q5. Do you see yourself as being a leader? How would you describe your leadership?

A5.  I accept that as a High Court judge I am in a position of leadership.  Whether I always make correct decisions in that position I cannot say.  I only know that I try to get it right.

I think my style of leadership has been described as consultative and egalitarian.  For myself I like to be part of a stable work environment with maximum transparency and daily social interaction.  I find that such an environment prevents conflict.

Q6. You have spoken out about prison conditions for remand prisoners in Fiji.  Do you see this as demonstrating leadership that is beyond the role you have? Did your views on prison conditions and mandatory imprisonment for drug offenders in Fiji lead to change?

A6.  My judgments on prison conditions arose out of bail applications.  Fiji’s Bail Act 2002, lists conditions of custody as a relevant factor in a bail application.  I visited the prison and ruled on the conditions, as part of my judicial duty.

The conditions were unacceptable under the Bail Act and section 25 of the Constitution which provides for freedom from inhumane and degrading conditions.  My decision was not popular with the government of the day and with many people who believed that prisoners deserve whatever they get.  However a judge cannot be concerned with what is popular, only with what is right and just.  In that sense I did not act beyond my judicial role.

However, my decision (and that of the other judges at the time) led to an improvement in the remand conditions.  In relation to my decision in State v. Audie Pickering on mandatory imprisonment for young offenders, the Drugs Decree was later repealed and replaced with the Illicit Drugs Act 2004, which left sentencing open to the discretion of the courts.

Q7. What have been some other initiatives that you have undertaken outside of your role that are aligned to your passions and direction?

A7. I chaired the Children’s Coordinating Committee from 1993 to 1999, and in that capacity was able to see many changes effected to Fiji’s laws on children.  I was National Co-ordinator for Judicial Training from 2002 to 2005 and was able to ensure that all judges and magistrates were exposed to a continuous programme of judicial training.  That was very satisfying.

Also satisfying was working with the media on making our court processes more transparent to the public.  That project in 2005 and 2006 involved ensuring access to all criminal judgments by the media and the public.

Finally, I currently chair the Criminal Justice Council, a body made up of the Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Prisons, Director of Public Prosecutions and Permanent Secretary for Justice.

The Committee discusses important issues in relation to the criminal justice system, with a view to changing what is not serving the people of Fiji well.

Q8. How do you support other women professionally? Do you see this as being important?

A8. I believe that supporting other women is very important, provided it can be done without losing judicial impartiality (both perceived and actual).  So in a rape case I cannot support the victim.  What I can do is to show sensitivity to the way the justice system has impact on women’s access to substantive justice, and to implement the law to effect such substantive justice.

Out of court I enjoy a network of other women judges and lawyers.  I am a member of the International Association of Women Judges.

Q9. What would you like to change for women in Fijian society?

A9. I would like to see substantive equality for women.  I would like to see a greater voice for women.  I would like to see every girl and woman educated to the level of her wishes and ability.

Q What is your vision as High Court Judge?

A To do justice for all people, without fear or favour or ill-will, and to uphold Fiji’s Constitution in all things.

US Congressman vouches for Bainimarama's lies

American Samoan congressman Eni Faleomavaega has been a staunch advocate of Bainimarama and his antics. We can only hope that he knows what he's doing.

But the extent of Faleomavaega's loyalty in the face of repeated lies and shifting goal-posts from the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama and Sayed Khaiyum will all come to a head. Of that there is certainty.

We reproduce here an excerpt from hearings in 2007 of the US Congress's Committee on Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment which Faleomavaega used to Chair.

It simply validates all opinions that the real reason despite all the blustering here and there, was really all about  Bainimarama's self-preservation.

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA: ...We are all aware of the fact that there has been another military takeover of the Government of Fiji, I believe for the fourth time now since 1987. But for whatever reasons that Fiji has gone through this dilemma since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1970, the people and the leaders of Fiji over the years are still trying to work through such difficult times from its colonial past up to the present.

Fiji’s democracy has been tested as to whether the indigenous Fijians and the Indians who were brought over by the British years ago during its colonial rule of that island nation could work together hopefully, and by trying to resolve some of its most serious issues affecting the country’s economic, social, and political needs, despite the obvious differences in their cultures, ethnicities, and traditionalist social values.

It was my privilege to visit personally with the Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, and members of the interim government’s cabinet. I want to submit for the record a copy of the letter I received from the Prime Minister, which outlines the scope and reasons that he and members of the Fiji’s military command, when they took over the government with the hope that in the year 2010, that new elections will be held for the leadership of that island nation in the South Pacific.

[The information referred to follows:]

19th February, 2007

Mr. Eni Faleomavaega
US Congress Representative for American Samoa 
American Samoa

Dear Sir,

Your Visit

It is my utmost pleasure to welcome you to our shores. My Government has agreed to engage fully with bilateral, regional and multilateral partners in our efforts to return Fiji to a truly democratic rule.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity this morning to have exchanged views with you on the underlying causes of December 5th takeover, and the steps we are taking to take Fiji forward. Should you require any further information, please donot hesitate to contact me.

Meanwhile please find attached some background information on the issues wecovered during our discussions this morning. 

Yours sincerely,

J. V. Bainimarama


In his statement on 5th December, Commander, Republic of Fiji Military Forces (CRFMF) Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said that the actions of the RFMF were precipitated by the impasse between the SDL Government and the RFMF. Some of the key reasons and issues that created and led to the impasse:

1. The persistent and deliberate involvement of persons supporting the unlawful takeover of Government in 2000 in the Qarase led SDL Government. This includes the Government after the 2001 and 2006 Elections;

2.The double standards of the SDL Government. On the one hand saying that they supported the law but on the other freeing or facilitating the freeing of coup convicts on extra-mural and/or compulsory supervision orders with unsubstantial reasons. These actions made a mockery of the justice system and fundamentally undermined the integrity of the judiciary and the ruleof law;

3. The continued appointment of those tainted by the events of 2000 to diplomatic and senior government positions;

4. The failure of the Police Force to investigate all the ‘shadowy figures’ behind the 2000 coup including Qarase who had requested me to remove the President. Despite this request the Police Force were determined to instead investigate me, my officers and the RFMF as a whole;

5. The politicization of the Prison services;

6. The regular visits by Government officials to Korovou Prison to meet prisoners who supported the illegal take over in 2000 and the mutiny. Some of these prisoners are accorded special treatment in prison and referred to as ‘cultural advisors’ to the prisoners;

7. The racist and inciteful speeches made by SDL parliamentarians which were never checked by Qarase. These speeches caused fear and tension in minority community and our society as a whole. We also noted with concernthe increased incidents of sacrilege aimed at minorities;

8. The repeated acts and incidents of Government and civil service corruption including SDL politicians. Those involved continued to be members of the Cabinet, those holding senior Government positions and civil servants;

9. The growing cycle of corruption, clientalism and cronyism also involved the extremely unhealthy influence of certain businessmen and women in the governmental decision making process;

10. The failure of the Qarase Government to pass any anti-corruption legislation in the past 5 years despite the growing and repeated acts of corruption which has undermined the very foundations of our civil service and institutions and the economy.

11. The determination by the Qarase led Government to pass acts of Parliament which would have inevitably increased indigenous Fijian nationalism, led to dispute between provinces—indigenous Fijians themselves, created ethnic tension, undermined the rule of law and the independence of constitutional offices including the Judiciary and compromised the right to fair hearing and representation. This refers in particular to the Reconciliation, Qoliqoli and Land Claims Tribunal Bills;

12. The exclusion of the RFMF from the National Security Council but repeated inclusion of the Police Force which indicated a refusal to hear the Military point of view on security and governance issues;

13. The manipulation of the criminal justice system for political reasons. The investigations against the CRFMF arose from a National Security Council decision and not from the independent decision of the Commissioner of Police himself.

14. The threat of and references to the use of regional forces and intervention by the Qarase Government to try and influence the resolution of our owninternal problems;

15. The threat of an Australian invasion as shown by the inciteful and hostile remarks made by Alexander Downer, the unexplained presence of an Australian Defense Helicopter within Fiji’s EEZ and the frequent references to the Biketawa Declaration made this threat a real one. Subsequent revelations confirmed this position.

16. The consideration of foreign intervention was viewed to be a serious threat to Fiji’s sovereignty and independence. It will always be resisted. Undersection 104 of the Constitution, the Prime Minister is to keep the President informed generally about issues relating to the governance of Fiji. He was never informed of this foreign presence.

17. On the Biketawa Declaration itself, the declaration states that the Government:
—Needs to be committed to good governance exercising authority in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable, participatory, consultative and decisive but fair and equitable;
—Ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief; and
—Must uphold the democratic processes and institutions which reflect national and local circumstances, including the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government. The Qarase Government had failed to adhere to many of these agreed principles of governance.

18. The repeated and persistent attempts to change the command structure at the RFMF since 2000 and the rewarding of those who have made those attempts.

19. Most seriously, the large Government deficit, the failure of the SDL Government to cut spending, the failure to revive the sugar industry, the failureto solve the land problem, the racist and selective education policies, the rapidly deteriorating public health services, the escalating poverty, the hike in interest rates, the lack of employment opportunities given the growing number of school leavers, the almost inevitable devaluation of the Fiji dollar, the neglect to increase our exports vis a vis our growing reliance on imports creating a critical balance of payments situation and the overall serious economic situation created by bad governance, mismanagement, corruption, disrespect for the rule of law and the undermining of democratic values since 2000.

20. The manner in which the 2006 Elections were conducted was characterized with discrepancies. The fact that no census was conducted before the Elections meant that serious breaches of the Constitution occurred, the fact that there were so many additional ballot papers printed for no good reason and the fact that unexplained procedures were adopted.

21. The fleeing from Suva of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and although it was only for a couple of days instilled a lack of confidence in the Government and negated claims that the Government was in fact in charge;

22. The untimely absence on leave of the Commissioner of Police at a crucial juncture in our country and his seemingly political bias was of grave concern.

23. Qarase and certain members of his Cabinet sought to incite certain members of our community to rebel against the RFMF and thereby did not have regard for the welfare and security of all our citizens and compromised national security.

24. On the morning of 5th December the President asked Qarase to come and see him and he refused to do so simply because he was fearful that the President would have asked him to resign or dismissed him. Clearly Qaraseas Prime Minister abdicated his responsibilities by refusing to listen to the President who is the Head of the State.

25. The President was prevented by some including the Vice President from exercising his constitutional powers. We were as a nation in a state of limbo.

The CRFMF accordingly stepped in and took over Executive Authority from the President under Doctrine of Necessity on 5th of December, to manage the affairs of the nation. He immediately issued an Emergency Decree and set up a Military Council to oversee the day-to-day governance of the nation. In this process of transition, there was no one hurt nor a single shot fired by the Military. It was a smooth transition and business continued as usual in the period which followed

Following return of Executive Authority to the President on Thursday 4th January, the President appointed an Interim Civilian Government and gave it the following mandate to fulfill

The mandate of the Interim Government is as follows:

—To continue to uphold the Constitution;
—Where necessary facilitate all legal protection and immunity, both criminaland civil, to the Commander, Officers and all members of the RFMF;
—Give effect to the actions of the RFMF including the respective suspension,dismissals and temporary removal from office of civil servants, Chief Executive Officer’s, those appointed by the Judicial Services and Constitutional Services Commissions, the Judiciary and Government appointed Boardmembers;
—Steady our economy through sustained economic growth and correct the economic mismanagement of the past six years;
—Lift up the living standards of the growing poor and underprivileged of our country;
—Restructure the Native Land Trust Board to ensure more benefits flow to the ordinary indigenous Fijians;
—Eradicate systemic corruption by including the setting up of an Anti-Corruption Unit through the Attorney General’s Office and set new standards of Governmental and institutional transparency;
—Improve our relations with our neighbours and the international community;
—Take our country to democratic elections after an advanced electoral officeand systems are in place and the political and economic conditions are conducive to the holding of such elections;
—Immediately as practicable introduce a Code of Conduct and Freedom of Information provisions; and
—Give paramountcy to national security and territorial integrity of Fiji.

The prospects for appropriate resolution lies within the context of President’smandate and the effective fulfillment thereof.

Restoration of parliamentary Democracy in Fiji will require the holding of ageneral election. For Fiji’s next general election to be free and fair, there areseveral important requirements that must be fulfilled. These include the following:

i) The holding of a National Census for Fiji. This census was postponed to 2007 by the previous government when it called for an early general election in 2006. Without the holding of the census, a general election was held instead and this caused many to question the validity of the rolls of voters that were prepared for the election that was held.
ii) The Census outcome will provide the precise population count and the demographic spread around country. This will in turn assist the Constituencies and Boundaries Commission to be able to determine the new boundaries for each constituency.
iii) With the new constituencies determined, voter registration will have to be undertaken nationwide. This will be a major exercise. Based on the experience in the lead up to the 2006 general election, this is one area that was highlighted by the Commonwealth Election Observer Group that needed improvement in any future election. Associated with this adequate resourcing to carry our voter registration properly and fairly.
iv) Voter education is vital to ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised because of their inability to understand the electoral system we operated in Fiji.
v) Election Office capacity building another major requirement. There is need for improving the holding of polling by reducing the number of days for actual polling. The other major is issue relates to the postal ballot arrangements.
vi) The issue of incumbency and how to protect against it to ensure a fair election must be addressed. This may call for a Code of Conduct for candidates in a general election to be promulgated.

The US Congress Representative for American Samoa could play the following role in assisting Fiji in restoration of democracy:
—Persuade US Government to re-engage with Fiji to better understand our situation,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to remove all sanctions gradually, starting immediately with travel ban imposed on military personnel, Interim Ministers, Civil Servants and civilians,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to resume developmental assistance,
—US Government to continue to support Fiji in UN; and,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to consider a package of assistance to facilitate accomplishments of the milestones specified in the roadmap for restoration of democracy.

February 06, 2012

Radio Australia: Newcrest's Fiji mine waste should not be underestimated

Giving independent scientific validation to why the people of Namosi's observed concerns about extensive damage to their natural surrounding is appropriate, Radio Australia has a very interesting perspective presented by an Australian Environmental Engineer on the magnitude of this mining project and the correlating risks.

More interesting is the perspective that the impacts could go well beyond the Namosi locale like the Rewa River.

Newcrest's Fiji mine waste should not be underestimated
Updated February 6, 2012 18:19:29

A leading Australian environmental engineer says photos of pollution from Newcrest's Namosi gold and copper exploration site, in Fiji, suggest heavy metals and sulphuric acid have been released into the environment.

The photos, taken by concerned landowners, show a plume of cloudy water in the Waidina River, collapsed banks and a leaking drill site.

Namosi is in rugged terrain on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu, 30 kilometres west of Suva.

Dr Gavin Mudd, Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Monash University, told Jemima Garrett the toxicity of the metals and acid should not be underestimated.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speaker: Dr Gavin Mudd, Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Monash University
Listen here.

MUDD: There's two key aspects from the photos that stand out to me; one is the amount of sediment and erosion problems going on there but the other one, which I think is more serious, is what we call acid mine drainage. Now, acid mine drainage is, I suppose, essentially the leachate that can come out of mines. Basically, if you take sulphide minerals, like pyrite, expose them into the surface environment, where it can then react with water and oxygen and produce sulphuric acid, and that sulphuric acid, of course, dissolves up copper, zinc, nickel, ..a whole range of different of different heavy metals that can be a quite serious concern for aquatic ecosystems.

GARRETT: You say that if Newcrest had had the usual sort of environmental management plans in place, this sort of pollution wouldn't have happened. Why?

MUDD: Well, a lot of companies have environmental management systems in place and certainly Newcrest do do that and, to me, the interesting question is why do we still get problems like this popping up? If the systems are in place, they should be able to prevent this. They should be able to manage the erosion, they would identify risks such as acid mine drainage as being very serious. And I know companies like Newcrest do understand these types of risks. The question to me really cuts to the heart of the rhetoric versus the reality, I guess. These things are well known in the industry. They should be able to be managed.

GARRETT: This is only the exploration phase. If the project gets up it will be a very big development. How does it compare in size to something like Ok Tedi in Papua New Guinea?

MUDD: I think, based on the resource figure that Newcrest are reporting for the Namosi Joint Venture, it is on a similar scale to Ok Tedi, and perhaps even a bit bigger. It is a very large project so, therefore, if things go wrong the risks are therefore very large as well! And we've seen that at mines like Ok Tedi in Papua New Guinea, the old Bougainville mine, of course, which led to severe social and environmental problems that still have not been resolved. I would urge caution because you want to make sure if you are going ahead with these types of projects that you do get it right, that you have good management plans in place, you resource the monitoring and the environmental management properly and so, that way, you can ensure that you are not leaving a legacy that is negative, that overall you can leave a positive legacy. That, to me would be the way I would approach it.

GARRETT: Fiji is currently going through the environmental impact assessment process for this site. What should the Fiji government be looking for in that assessment?

MUDD: I have read through the guidelines that have been published by the Fiji government and they are quite extensive and they do cover a lot of the range of issues and it is now up to Newcrest to decide which way they plan to develop Namosi. Are they going to be building a tailings dam or are they going to use marine tailings like Lihir? Now, on that type of question, to me, I certainly think there is a good case to be made that they can deliver a conventional land-based tailings dam and deal with risks such as earthquakes and so on. If you look at a country like Chile, they've learnt from the past, in terms of when earthquakes happened and tailings dams collapsed because they weren't engineered to withstand earthquakes. So these are all the options that should be considered. The other critical aspect with any kind of environmental impact assessment is good baseline data i.e. what was everything like before the mine started? Now that can be on environmental grounds, surface water quality, ground water, marine and so on but also the biodiversity. But also, social as well, because a lot of the concerns that people have about some of these large developments are not just environmental but also social. So good quality baseline data that can really answer in the future any questions about what changes have been caused by the mine versus what might be natural or maybe climate change related, or all sorts of various factors. But good baseline data, good options and thorough assessment of different options -these are all the things that should be looked at as part of any environmental assessment.

GARRETT: Fiji hasn't had a big open-cut mine like this before and I guess it is going to be looking at preventing problems rather than cleaning up the mess afterwards. What sort of regulation and what sort of monitoring will it need to protect the environment?

MUDD: There is a whole range of things that really cut to the heart of that. One is extensive surface water monitoring, and by that I mean not just at one spot you know maybe a handful of times a year but regular. At places like the Ranger uranium mine they now actually have online monitoring where they have probes permanently in the creeks to monitor the water quality continuously and that gives you excellent detail to look at what is being released from the mine in terms of any sort of run-off from the mine but also making sure, especially in the rugged terrain, that exists on the islands in Fiji, it may be that you need to monitor multiple streams not just one. So really in that sense extensive monitoring and independent checks on that monitoring.

GARRETT: This mine, if it goes ahead will be a big mine on a small island. It is in the headwaters of Fiji's biggest river, the Rewa River and it is also quite close to the Coral Coast where the tourism industry is located. Is it possible that this mine is just too big for the situation that it finds itself in?

MUDD: That is certainly one line of thought. At the moment, of course, it is really up to Newcrest to answer that and for the government to accept Newcrest's position, or for the community to say no, actually we do not think this is worth the risk. And that is, I suppose, where everything is up to at the moment. So you can only hope that the studies are thorough, that there are extensive baseline studies, that good options are put on the table and they are all assessed comprehensively. So, at the moment that is an open question. It certainly is a very challenging situation and it is not something that should be taken lightly at all.

February 05, 2012

Illegal and Treasonous Sharon Smith Johns "manages relations" on Facebook

Taxpayers and citizens of Fiji should know just how well spent their hard earned taxes are being spent while many citizens brave the elements, the food shortages and the long-term impacts of the recent natural disasters.

Now that the illegal, treasonous and utterly incompetent Permanent Secretary for Information, Mz Sharon Smith Johns has time on her hands due to more valuable taxpaying dollars being wasted and outsourced to the likes of Tina C Jeon and Solomon Levine to cover up for her ineptitude, Smith Johns shows the world as to why she was never cut out for management in the first place.

And right here folks, presented in all its glorious gore is the calibre of a supposed high ranking "guvment" official re-living her (sad) adolescent years on a public Facebook forum and possibly even breaching the Public Service Commission's crystal clear guidelines for using social media.

As for QORVIS, the illegal and treasonous military regime's spin chiefs, they become more exposed with each passing day, and it appears that global citizens are actively monitoring their every move, which includes tracking them edit Wikipedia profiles of their clients and staff.

February 03, 2012

Growth prospects downgraded

As usual, the illegal and treasonous military regime will cue their minions to to push every angle except the truth.

Now the elements are being fingered as responsible for our economic woes.

Fiji’s growth prospect likely to be affected: review
Friday, February 03, 2012

Fiji’s growth prospect for the economy this year is expected to be affected states the Reserve Bank’s latest economic review.

This is due to the possible weakening in Fiji’s trading partner demand and adverse impact from the recent floods in the western division.

Flooding has affected the agriculture, wholesale and retail, construction and - electricity and water sectors greatly.

And the Eurozone economy is expected to enter into a mild recession this year while growth for both advanced and emerging economies are expected to slow down which will have an impact on the Fijian economy.

The Reserve Bank says the latest data on sectoral performances in the last quarter of 2011 has shown mixed results.

RBF says while output from the sugar industry and visitor arrival remains buoyant; gold, electricity generation and construction activity fell further in the review period.

Report by: Ritika Pratap

TVNZ: Russian aid to Pacific must be open: Rudd

Published: 10:09AM Wednesday February 01, 2012 Source: AAP

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has stressed to his Russian counterpart the need to be transparent with the development assistance it gives to Pacific island nations, amid ongoing concerns Moscow is using aid to buy diplomatic support in the region.

Rudd met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sydney yesterday.

With Lavrov due to visit Fiji later this week, Russia's role in the South Pacific was high on Rudd's agenda.

Russia has been accused of giving vast sums of money to Pacific island nations like Tuvalu and Nauru in exchange for those countries recognising the sovereignty of the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are officially part of Russia's enemy Georgia.

The claims last year prompted the Australian Government's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, to accuse Russia of "cheque-book diplomacy" that could undermine efforts to eradicate poverty in the region.

There are also fears Russia's dealings with Fiji could set back the diplomatic campaign to coax the country's military regime to restore democracy.

Rudd stressed to Lavrov yesterday the importance of maintaining democratic norms in the region.

"They discussed the engagement many countries have with Fiji, and Rudd explained Australia's engagement, which includes substantial development assistance," a summary of the meeting provided by Rudd's office said.

"He stressed the importance of transparency in development assistance with the region."

The pair also discussed the worsening bloodshed in Syria.

Australia and other Western governments want the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution adopting an Arab League peace plan that calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign and hand power to his deputy.

But Russia has signalled it will use its permanent member veto powers to sink the resolution and has offered a softer alternative resolution.

"Mr Lavrov explained the Russian approach to the issue, reflected in its draft resolution before the Security Council," the summary reads.

"Mr Rudd explained that Australia supported the resolution presented by the Arab League which contains elements in common with the Russian draft and calls for measures to be implemented against the Syrian regime, and for Assad to hand over power to his deputy."

An estimated 5400 Syrians have been killed since anti-government unrest broke out in March last year.

In October, Rudd took aim at Russia and China for using their veto powers to block a resolution demanding Assad's regime end its crackdown on anti-government rebels.

"China and Russia must now bear a particular responsibility for persuading Syria to end the violence and implement meaningful change," he said at the time.

February 02, 2012

Ratu Tevita Mara: The dictator Bainimarama threatens Namosi Land Owners with the military.

A source from the PM’s office has revealed to me the details of the meeting that took place between the illegal ruler of Fiji and the Land owners of Namosi. In his opening address to the Land owners the illegal self appointed Prime Minister said “The last thing I want to see is this situation prolonged and having to send the military up there to sort it out”

Bainimarama announced to the country when he was on his last overseas jaunt he would take over the negotiations between the land owners and the Newcrest Joint Venture Company. We now know why. If any one else handled the negotiations the Land owners might get their way and deprive Bainimarama and Khaiyum of their big Mining payoff.

This is not negotiating as we know it. This is negotiating Dictator Style. This is where the dictator tells the rightful landowners of Namosi they have no say in the future of their province, because Bainimarama and his soldiers call all the shots. This is hard evidence that Fiji is ruled by the power of the gun.

I was sent the following from my source. “Dou ciqoma na veivakatorocaketaki e kauta tiko yani na matanitu, ena kalougata kina na nomudou vanua, vakavure cakacaka kei vakaduri bisinisi eso. Kena toso tiko ga na vakaduduile e sana keitou sana muri tale edua na gaunisala kaukauwa na matanitu. Nai otioti ni ka au via raica ke mani toso tikoga na leqa oqo keitou sana vakaqiqica yani e cake qori na mataivalu."

An English translation is below, “You people accept development this Regime is bringing to your province, your province will be blessed by it, and it will bring employment and business as well.  If you continue with your indifferences against this regime, we will take a harder approach. The last thing I want to see is this situation prolonged and having to send the military up their to sort it out”

The land owners have nowhere to turn. The Government spin doctor Sharon Smith Johns is trying to portray Bainimarama as the saviour of the Fijian people. She is trying to tell us that he is the only prime minister who has ever worried about their development and invested in infrastructure in rural areas. That is patently not true and here in a closed meeting we learn the true colours of a dictator. “Do as I say and I will give you things. Don’t do as I say and I will give you a bullet.”

Bainimarama does not believe in land owners rights in Namosi. His puppet master Khaiyum has convinced him all minerals belong to the government and so the regime can do what it wants and to hell with the Namosi Landowners.

This is a very difficult situation for the Namosi Land owners. How do they save their province, how do they save their fields, how do they save their rivers, how do they save their way of life? If they try and they will be shot for their troubles. 

Taking the dictators approach forward what does it say for the constitutional discussions that are supposed to happen this year? What happens when a participant pushes for something the Dictator does not want? 

Bainimarama will use the same negotiating tactic. “Shut Up or I will send the military to pick you up and take you to the camp!”

People of Fiji understand there will be no free and fair elections in 2014. We have seen in January how the dictator manipulates votes and then if he does not get the right result he uses government backed institutions to punish the “guilty” party.

We see here how Bainimarama negotiates dictates an outcome. It will be the same in 2014 the negotiated constitution will be so in his favour the result is a foregone conclusion. And if by chance the result goes against Frank he will simply take over the country with the military once again.