Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More on the Solomons

Today's Sydney Morning Herald has more on the dispute between Australia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea that is dominating this year's Pacific Islands Forum. For those who haven't been following it, two weeks ago, the Australian government attempted to extradite Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti from Papua New Guinea to face child sex charges. He was subsequently spirited out of the country back to the Solomons, where he was promptly arrested for entering the country illegally. When an order from the Solomon Islands Immigration Minister Peter Shanel allowing entry was produced, the Australians arrested him too - for "perverting the course of justice" by initially denying its existence. In the SMH, Roger de Robillard points out just how dubious this is:

When challenged to charge Shanel or release him immediately, RAMSI charged him with having (in substance) lied to the Police Commissioner, an Australian Federal Police officer.

The allegation is not that the lie was told during a formal police interview or inquiry but at a meeting between the Police Commissioner and the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister's office. Shanel, as Immigration Minister, was present at the meeting.

Imagine a minister of government being arrested and charged under similar circumstances in Australia.

Then of course they kicked in the Prime Minister's door while trying to seize a fax machine in an effort to discover who had sent the order to PNG. Its difficult to escape the feeling this is more driven by a vendetta by Australia over Moti than a serious attempt to enforce Solomon Islands (as opposed to Australian) law.

But it gets worse. Shanel's charge - "perverting the course of justice" - depends on the immigration order existing (after all, he can hardly lie about it if it doesn't exist). Moti's charge - illegal entry - depends on it not existing. It doesn't take a genius to see that these two positions are contradictory, and that the Australians are trying to have it both ways here. But as I said, this is more about vendetta than the law.

The problem is that this arrogant and bullying attitude on the part of Australia is now undermining RAMSI's work, and calling its future into question. No-one in the Pacific Islands Forum wants to see RAMSI asked to leave - but if the Australians keep swinging their dick around like this, that might be exactly what happens.

Update: Added missing "not".


De Robillard, who funnily eoungh has a colourful history himself, is being paid by Sogavare to get their mutual friend Moti off the hook, so what he says is worth nothing.

I prefer Helen Clark's position - suppror for Australia.

Another pleasant person caught up in this little bit of political corrupton is Sogavare's nephew - Robson Djokovic. He's got convictions for drugs offences, fraud and buglary. Looks like he helped get Moti out of PNG.

Charming people these, not sure if I'd go in to bat for them.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/24/2006 07:12:00 PM

"But it gets worse. Shanel's charge - "perverting the course of justice" - depends on the immigration order existing (after all, he can hardly lie about it if it doesn't exist)"

Of course you can lie about something that doesnt exist..... Santa Clause, a false alibi, or perhaps, the existance of an immigration order?


Posted by Anonymous : 10/25/2006 08:47:00 AM

Moti was illegally arrested by Australian AFP officers in Port Moresby.He was arrested in a transit Lounge at Airport.This is against International Law.He was arrested and detained without a warrant, or proper warrant. This was a breach of Human Rights as enshrined in the PNG Consitution.Bugger!
The Warrant of Arrest issued 5 hours after his detention was defective because it was made under the Arrest Act of PNG for an alleged crime committed in Vanuatu. PNG Courts dont have jurisdiction for crimes in Vanuatu.Bugger again!

Further, Moti's arrest was based on reliance by the AFP on the PNG Extradition Act 1977. Someone should have told the Attorney General of Australia that an Ausaid team drafted and had the PNG Parliament repeal the 1977 Act and Passed a new Extradition Act only last year.So the (defective) warrant of Arrest was based on a law that does not exist.Triple Bugger!
The Affidavits by the Police arresting officer for the issue of the warrant of arrest was sworn before the same magistrate who granted the warrant of arrest.So the magistrate was involved in collecting and collating evidence, then got around to the bench and sat in judgement over the material he collated in collaboration with the AFP prosecutors.What about Mr Moti's right to natural justice and fair trial by an impartial tribunal? Bugger again!
By International law,and by PNG Extradition Act the offence Australia wants Moti extradited on must also be an offence in PNG (the double criminality requirement). PNG does not have Child sex tourism laws, ie a PNG citizen to be prosecuted for child sex offences in another country.
So the offence Australia accuses Moti of is not an extraditable offence by PNG law. So in effect not only was the arrest and detention illegal but the whole process was seriously flawed from the start.Australia was really asking PNG to break its laws!How does Australia reconcile this against all its posturing about rule of law and governance in the Pacific? Wasnt Downer and Howard really asking PNG Government to be corrupt...turn a blind eye to the rule of law and proper legal procedures and hand Moti over? Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!
What legal right has Australia to demand any explanation from PNG about the flight of Moti to Solomon Islands? None whatsoever, because it did not breach Australian Airspace.Only Solomon Islands can complain or waive its rights.Besides why should PNG give any explanation for an Australian initiative that was so heavily laced with illegality? PNG government is responsible to PNG citizens for its conduct and the people will get their explanation. If the people are not happy, they will make their choice at the ballots coming soon.That is Democracy as we learnt at school, anything less is best left to uneducated and unenlightened minds.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/08/2006 05:47:00 AM