Thursday, December 08, 2011

Secret justice in Fiji

What's worse than a sedition trial? A secret sedition trial! Radio New Zealand International reports that five men charged with sedition in Fiji are to be tried in secret, with the public and media excluded:

Fiji Village says the Magistrates Court in Suva today ruled that the public and the media will be barred from court during the case.

The state’s application for a closed court argued it was in the interests of public safety and the fact that other people allegedly involved in the case have not yet been arrested and charged.

It is alleged that the five conspired to writing seditious words in public places in Suva last August.

There is only one reason for doing this: that the government's "evidence" will not be convincing to the public, and the stitch-up obvious. Which is precisely why civilised countries demand that their trials happen in public, under full media scrutiny: to ensure the fairness of the outcome, and to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the system. But its been obvious for a while that the justice system in Fiji has been corrupted, with judges leaned on or sacked and replaced to produce the government's desired outcomes. The fact that they feel they must now operate in secret simply reinforces the perception that their court process can no longer be trusted to stand scrutiny in the light of day.