Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Fiji: Impunity at the point of a gun

Fijian blog Solivakasama reports that the Fijian regime has just given itself total immunity for its crimes. A "Limitation of Liability for Prescribed Political Events Decree" [DOC] was issued in an extraordinary gazette last week, purportedly grant "absolute and unconditional immunity" to former President Iloilo, Commodore Bainimarama, the military, and the police, for all actions taken not just during the 2006 coup and its subsequent fallout, but also for the 2000 coup and November 2000 Queen Elizabeth Barracks mutiny. The latter gets Bainimarama off the hook for ordering the brutal torture and murder of four Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers who had been captured after the mutiny. The decree also covers "all dialogues, discussions [and] correspondence" between the military and the elected government between 2001 and 2006, so he's off the hook for treason as well.

This is what the coup was always about: getting Bainimarama out from under a murder rap. And now he's done it. Except that it might not be as cast-iron as he thinks. Quite apart from its complete lack of legitimacy, courts in South American have repeatedly overturned such impunity deals as unconstitutional. Whether that happens in Fiji will depend on its constitution - and on its judiciary. Fiji's current judges are simply collaborators in dictatorship, Quislings for the regime. But assuming the military ever relinquishes power, that won't always be the case. And that means Bainimarama may yet find himself where he belongs: in court, facing justice for his actions.