Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fiji: Impunity and incitement

So, Fiji's President has promulgated a decree granting full and unconditional immunity from criminal, civil and professional proceedings to Commodore Bainimarama, his troops, and all acting under his direction over the last month. While there is provision for compensation, this is solely at the discretion of the state and not awardable by the courts. What this means in English is that the soldiers who have detained, beaten, and abused people, and the officers who gave the orders, will get away with it. In one case, this means getting away with murder.

The deep hypocrisy here should be obvious. One of the "justifications" for the coup was the threat that the elected Qarase government might grant an amnesty to those involved in the 2000 coup. Now Bainimarama is doing exactly the same thing. Does that mean people would be justified in overthrowing him too?

Meanwhile, the Army has warned that it considers demanding respect for human rights to be "incitement", and those doing so will be dealt with accordingly (how - by being dragged to barracks and beaten by soldiers with impunity for their actions?). And the "interim" government is declaring that it may remain in power for up to five years. That's five years of rule by decree, without any form of electoral mandate or accountability to the people. And they think that this will strengthen Fiji's democracy?


And the greatest irony of all is that Frank Bananarama was the hero of the 2000 coup because he ensured that elections were held as soon as possible...

Posted by Lewis Holden : 1/23/2007 02:04:00 PM

As for the UN being opposed to the coup, I heard today on radio news that the UN hasin fact just recruited 12 more soldiers/peacekeepers/whatevers from Fiji and is intending to fly them out through South Korea, due to the travel bans NZ and Australia have put on military personnel. So much for supporting the stance against the coup, this makes a mockery of the actions Oz and NZ have taken. GRRRRR!

The issue about immunity from prosecution is key. I understand that the Commodore was under investigation for deaths in custody, in his charge, during a previous coup, just before he took over...

Posted by Span : 1/23/2007 02:39:00 PM

I see little difference in the Fiji dictatorship creating immunity
from prosecution for themselves and the Labour led New Zealand Government passing laws to immunise themselves from facing court charges for stealing taxpayers money to help elect themselves to power.

Goosey Gander

Posted by Anonymous : 1/24/2007 09:19:00 AM

Goosey - one difference would be that the New Zealand legislation specifically left open the possibility of criminal sanction against those involved.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/24/2007 09:50:00 AM

Goosey: I do, but that's because I have some understanding of how government actually works in this country.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/24/2007 11:41:00 AM