Sep 15, 2011

Top NZ lawyer criticises Fiji's suppression


Law Society president Jonathan Temm

STAY AWAY: Law Society president Jonathan Temm has warned New Zealanders to seriously consider whether they ever visit Fiji under its current regime.

Fiji is a totalitarian regime and New Zealanders need to seriously consider whether they go there, Law Society president Jonathan Temm says.

"People need to know that when they travel to Fiji it is not about sun and sand," he said in an interview.

"There is an overt current which says you are not going to get the same rights and privileges that you thought you might; this country is under military rule."

His comment came as the United Nation's International Labour Organisation (ILO) condemned an anti-trade union military decree imposed Monday on 11 companies including Air Pacific and trading banks.

The Law Society says it is concerned at Fiji's direction.

"This is not a steady progression back to democracy; this is the entrenching of a small cabal of unelected people who are really operating now in complete totalitarianism," Temm said.

The Rotorua barrister said four foreigners, including two New Zealanders, had recently died in unexplained circumstances in Fiji's tourist belt.

"There is a certain degree of lawlessness in Fiji….

"There is no transparency about what happens around these things. There is secrecy by the Fiji regime, the regime tries to keep these suppressed."

New Zealanders need to know rights and freedoms are severely restricted. This includes things like being able to attend a Methodist Church on any day other than Sunday.

"What the regime has done is that the have crushed out the media, then they have crushed out the legal profession, then they did the church and you know they have done it in education, because they have kicked out professors of the University of the South Pacific."

The Fiji Law Society had been closed, its offices destroyed in an arson attack and the regime now controlled all lawyers.
New Zealanders had no rights in Fiji.

"If you behave in the way you do at home, you'll find yourself down at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the same way as others ... and it is not pleasant," Temm said.

Fiji has been under military rule since Voreqe Bainimarama staged a democracy ending coup in 2006.

On Monday, the regime's Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum pushed through Essential Industries (Employment) Decree which
ILO director general Juan Somavia described as a denial of fundamental rights.

"By going ahead with this decree the government has demonstrated the same lack of concern for the views of the international community as it has for the rights and aspirations of its own people," Somavia said.

"It was essential Fiji change course now. That means reversing this and other restrictive labour decrees, a return to dialogue with trade unions and employers, an end to assaults on and harassment of trade unionists, and the immediate restoration of basic civil liberties."

The ILO last month sent a mission to Fiji warning the decree had "negative implications" for Fiji's international obligations under ratified ILO Conventions.

The (illegal) decree ends union rights for employees of :

Air Pacific


Bank of Baroda

Bank South Pacific

Westpac and,

Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority

Fiji International Telecommunications Ltd

Telecom Fiji Ltd

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Fiji Electricity Authority and,

Water Authority of Fiji

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