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Sacked Fiji judges warn expats on treason

April 12, 2009

Font Size: Decrease Increase Print Page: Print Chris Merritt and John Stapleton | April 13, 2009
Article from: The Australian

THE Australian judges who triggered Fiji’s latest political crisis have branded the Pacific nation’s president a dictator and warned that any expatriate judges who accept job offers from him could be seen as treasonous.

The attack on president Josefa Iloilo was unleashed yesterday after he had sacked the country’s judiciary, torn up the constitution and reappointed a prime minister whose regime the judges had declared illegal.

“He is effectively a dictator – that is a strong word, but that is the situation,” said Ian Lloyd, one of the three Australian judges on Fiji’s Court of Appeal who last Thursday ruled that military leader Frank Bainimarama’s seizure of power in a 2006 coup was illegal.

Mr Iloilo responded to the ruling by sacking all Fiji’s judges, declaring a 30-day state of emergency and, on Saturday, swearing Mr Bainimarama back into office as prime minister. Press censorship has also been imposed.

Mr Iloilo promised to appoint his own judges to replace those he had sacked. But Mr Lloyd warned that “any expat now thinking of taking a position will effectively be swearing allegiance to an illegal dictator”.

“On one view, you could be regarded as being treasonous because this regime is illegal,” he said. All three Australian judges fear that those judges who remain loyal to Fiji’s constitution are risking a confrontation with the military. The Australians – Mr Lloyd, Randall Powell SC and Francis Douglas QC – warned that this could come tomorrow when Fiji’s courts reopen for the first time since the coup.

The Australians, who normally practise as barristers in Sydney, ruled that Mr Iloilo had unlawfully purported to validate the 2006 coup that brought Mr Bainimarama to power.

Mr Douglas, who was sworn in by the president only last Monday, said he agreed with Mr Lloyd’s assessment that Mr Iloilo was now a dictator.

The three Australian judges handed down their controversial ruling on Thursday after walking past a contingent of between 50 and 80 uniformed troops who had arrived at the court building in Fiji’s capital, Suva.

“They weren’t in the court itself, but they were in the precincts of the court,” Mr Lloyd said. “They were scattered around the corridors and guarding the stairways. “It may have been to protect us, but we didn’t really think we needed protection from the public,” he said.

All three judges said yesterday that the President’s decree sacking the judiciary had no legal effect.

“We are still judges,” said Mr Douglas. And they believe that applies to all the magistrates and judges who have purportedly been sacked by the President.

Mr Lloyd, who was the last of the three to return to Sydney, said Australian consular officials in Fiji had urged him to leave the country immediately and to keep a low profile until he boarded a flight to Sydney on Saturday.

But before he left, he said he had learned that Fiji’s Chief Justice, Anthony Gates, wanted the country’s judges to appear in court tomorrow, despite their purported dismissal.

Chief Justice Gates, who holds joint British and Australian citizenship, had told Australian expatriate judge Tom Hickie that the best course of action would be to turn up for court on Tuesday “and see what happens“. (Gate’s you should be thrown into Naboro too!!!)

About six expatriate Australians are part of Fiji’s judiciary, including Chief Justice Gates, Justice Hickie and high-profile judge Jocelynne Scutt.

Mr Powell, Mr Lloyd and Mr Douglas urged the Law Council of Australia and the federal Government to take whatever steps they could to ensure the welfare of Fiji’s judiciary.

“They need as much help from outside as they can (get),” Mr Douglas said.

Mr Powell said he would not be surprised if Fiji’s judges continued to sit on cases.

“They just cannot be dismissed like this. They are still judges. They can only be dismissed for misconduct,” he said. “I am not saying they should make themselves martyrs by going into court.”

He said he believed anyone who sought to take their place would strike extreme problems.

“I am still a judge of Fiji for another two years but as a practical matter I will not be allowed back into the country – as least while the military is in charge.”

Mr Lloyd said Mr Iloilo, 88, appeared to be carrying out Mr Bainimarama’s instructions. Mr Douglas said he was extremely disappointed at the President’s reaction and it meant an opportunity to return Fiji to democracy had receded.

Fiji has been under pressure to hold elections soon, but Mr Iloilo said they would now not be held for five more years.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Celua Niumataiwalu permalink
    April 12, 2009 11:52 PM

    After giving this advice boom boom gates has flee to Sri Lanka leaving his fellow judges and magistrates in a state of cofusion.

    I hope the Tamil Tigers give him the appropriate welcome of chucking a grenade into his pocket when he gets there.

  2. angie.heffern permalink
    April 13, 2009 12:01 AM

    both the NZ and Australian law Councils must accept full responsibility for not taking appropriate action against their own members who took unlawful oaths to serve under the unlawful militray regime ie Pryde, scutt, gates , brynes ad others !.Why is it treasonous now…and not than??

  3. angie permalink
    April 13, 2009 12:02 AM

    both the NZ and Australian law Councils must accept full responsibility for not taking appropriate action against their own members who took unlawful oaths to serve under the unlawful militray regime ie Pryde, scutt, gates , brynes ad others !.Why is it treasonous now…and not than??

  4. Katalina Balawanilotu permalink
    April 13, 2009 12:08 AM

    Vinaka Ian!

    Dictator he always have been.

    No one in the right frame of mind negotiates with Dictators. The people of Fiji need to NOW; more than at any other time in their lives mobilize and get to the streets of Suva

    This will open the doors for NZ/AUST to step in

    Time for pussy footing is over

    Take care of your business once and for all

    Or suffer a long dragged out 15 year ordeal

    And all for what ??

    You will stand up anyway AT THE END OF THAT 15 year waiting period and take to the streets

    Why give these dictators the satisfaction ??

  5. Katalina Balawanilotu permalink
    April 13, 2009 12:55 AM

    Zero uprising on the ground gives the impression that the majority of Fijians support the dictator.

    If Fijians want that image changed

    Go to the streets of Suva

    Death is beside us all each and every moment. To die for a cause that will save your future generations is noble.

    President Obama exists because many sacrificed their lives eons ago.

    What makes us think we are exempt

    Do it.

    Sa rauta na talanoa tiko ga. Day in and day out we talk. Dou tucake mai and put an end to this bull shit.

  6. angie permalink
    April 13, 2009 1:07 AM

    GOD helps those who help themselves…..look at the NZ govt’s response..they are not going to consider trade sanctions. Why should other nations have to take measures that will also impact on them negatively ie trade and politically if the people of Fiji and it;s rightful leaders will not take measures themsleves to remove the usurpers!!.

    Let us hope that lot of spineless chickens called soldiers/officers in camp can rise up remove their unlaw, immoral lot…I’d rather see an uprising in the security forces than on the streets. This men to church…..go home to their families and look at their children….yet they cower in fear and arrogance and say that they are only obeying orders ..they have no choice. We all have choices..these cowards including their spouses and their families have choosen to turn a blind eye and play the pretend game in the hope that it will not affect them. They are worse than Biani and his lot.

  7. April 13, 2009 1:16 AM

    I agree with Katalina, its time to stand up and be counted. The chiefs should talk to their people and conduct a peaceful protest by not going to work and staying at home. This will deny them of tax which is paid when you go to work. When you stay home he cannot come to your home and force you to go to work.
    The protest should be for the removal of the President, Frank and his cronies.
    The chiefs and the people have the power to remove them and its now or for ever suffer the consequences.
    The time is now because the international community will back the chiefs and the people.

  8. Lima permalink
    April 13, 2009 1:19 AM

    I agree angie! I would rather see an uprising at the camp than on the streets!

  9. Mark Manning permalink
    April 13, 2009 2:40 AM

    angie
    don’t you mean :- God help those who help themselves ?

  10. angie permalink
    April 13, 2009 2:51 AM

    @MM.., for that one…their days of reckoning is closer than they think, and GOD won’t be there to help them when they get their justly earthly rewards!

    BUT citizens of Fiji at home and abroad cannot sit on their bums …what will and does it have to take to get people on the streets in vigals and marches. The christains spend so much time in prayer..praying about Fiji …surely…they cannot be deaf to the inner voices of their conscience calling them to action…areeeee look at St Paul and all the Saints ..they did not just pray..they were men and women of action. Anyone out there who is interested in not just praying, but more concrete action ..email me plse…: angie.heffern@gmail.com.

  11. Save the Sheep permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:04 AM

    Clearly anyone who accepts an appointment to this Judiciary will be immediately Guilty of Treason.

    Right now though the Inner Circle feel that they hold all the cards.

    Unfortunately this is what happens to all ‘Inner Circles’ as they continue to paint themselves out of existence.

    Leadership is an illusion and good leadership can only be based on good advice from people with substantial moral fibre.

    In Fiji we lack substantial moral fibre and prop this up with an exuberan embrace of God to make us feel better.

    We certainly lack good advice aka we will never have good leaders in this Country.

  12. Mark Manning permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:29 AM

    Mr. Qarase’s Government was warned by the Australian Government in 2006 , that it’s Qoli Qoli and Amnesty bills were divisive and that there was potential for the Military to use it as an excuse to overthrow the Government .
    And why Mr. Qarase or Andrew Hughes didn’t act earlier to remove the Commander or have him arrested and questioned for Sedition and his alleged involvement in the murders of the 5 C.R.W. soldiers in 2000 , is beyond me .
    As well as these matters , one would have to question the logic in a Government allowing people with a Criminal Conviction being allowed to serve in Government at all .
    Perhaps Frank and Co. have some valid arguments , I don’t know , but we all agree that other avenues , legal ones , should have been used to seek an amicable resolution of the perceived problems .
    That after all , is the Democratic way !
    Perhaps now is the time to reach out with an olive branch and turn this situation around .
    How can that be done and who should implement it or is it too late ?

  13. Asgrocky permalink
    April 13, 2009 8:10 AM

    All the people overseas calling for locals to take to the streets should go to Fiji themselves and lead the march instead of talking from a safe haven.

    Not that the locals don’t want to do it. There’s a lot at stake.

    Who listens to the chiefs these days? A lot of them are not even respected in their own…… Look at the Iloilo man. I wonder how many from his province still respect him today?

  14. Asgrocky permalink
    April 13, 2009 8:15 AM

    Angie, leave the christians alone to pray. Some people need to be praying, they are doing their part.

    You do your part with your concrete action. And good luck to you.

  15. angie.heffern permalink
    April 13, 2009 8:48 AM

    @asgrocky..I understand and appreciate your concerns, but if everyone took that stance and waited for the next person to do something, nothing will change. And by the way someof us have paid the price and would pay the price again if we were allowed back home. I don’t doubt for one the power of prayer and faith, but the Lord calls us also to put our faith into practise. Faith is not idle or passive. Anyways…we need prayer warriors and we look to you and others who have been called to pray to support that way – GOD BLESS

  16. Tim permalink
    April 13, 2009 8:57 AM

    Angie.heffernam @12.01. Couldn’t agree with you more! Needless to say they’ll wriggle out of their muddle with their necks intact but at least their credibility has been shot to pieces! Which isn’t the best thing on which to base a career.
    Gates had to learn the hard way with a reputation he may have been proud of now wallowing in shit.
    Pryde and others never even earned a reputation and had to swan off to some “little paradise” where he thought he could achieve the big con.
    Fuck him!. Same goes for the likes of Scutt. She’s shat on everything she once once stood for. Oh Dear! What a pity!
    Next, next…….
    Shaista and Nazi
    Next… next.

  17. Katalina Balawanilotu permalink
    April 13, 2009 7:36 PM

    Praying and taking action will do it NOT simply praying and then sitting around looking up into the heavens day and night for some magical solutions to fall down from the clear blue skies.

    The Iraqi’s prayed and chanted and fasted BUT Sadam Hussein went about executing as he saw fit

    ACTION is needed to accompany the 2_year long prayers

    And I will be on the first flight out of LA upon word that people on the ground have taken to the streets. Fundraising should now be activated towards the inevitable as we need to be able to buy tickets for overseas dwellers

    But why should we do it alone ?
    And why should we be silent about the ONLY real solution here?
    We will die someday
    Die for a cause that is heroic for the many generations of Fiji yet to be born
    And why prolong the inevitable?

    Chiefs in Viti Levu should now gather their people and begin this process and The only chiefs who have lost respects from their own are the chiefs of Lau along with Ganilau and Nailatikau.

  18. Katalina Balawanilotu permalink
    April 13, 2009 7:42 PM

    Two years ago we were talking

    Today

    The Constitution has been abrogated

    The Media effectively silenced

    Everything we know that is right and good for the people of Fiji is now at stake

    We have to pay the price of restoring our future generations’ freedom and liberty

    True everywhere in the world

    We are not exempt

    We have been dealt the dictatorship card

    Now we deal with it

    AND STOP FANTASIZING !

  19. Mark Manning permalink
    April 14, 2009 5:56 AM

    angie
    why haven’t you replied to my e-mail ?

  20. Katalina Balawanilotu permalink
    April 14, 2009 6:07 AM

    Along with Iloilo

    Mata vaka lairo

    are the chiefs who have lost respects not only from their very own people but all of Fiji

  21. Asgrocky permalink
    April 14, 2009 7:46 AM

    Thanks angie. Appreciate your sensitivity and understanding. I do know about your brave stand in Fiji.

  22. angie.heffern permalink
    April 14, 2009 9:04 AM

    MM I did not get an email from you today…can u resend to angie.heffern@gmail.com or aheffern@pacintegrity.org..vinaka

  23. angie permalink
    April 14, 2009 9:06 AM

    @ MM I did not get an email from you today…can u resend to angie.heffern@gmail.com or aheffern@pacintegrity.org..vinaka

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