8 Mar 2007

Fiji Human Rights Commission threatens legal action against US embassy

11:33 am on 8 March 2007

The Fiji Human Rights Commission is threatening legal action against the United States embassy in Suva following the release of a US State Department report on events in Fiji since the coup.

The commission director, Dr Shaista Shameem, says the issue of the legality of the coup is currently before the courts and therefore is subjudice.

She says the US embassy in Fiji could be taken to court under section 124 of the Constitution, which prohibits contempt of court.

Dr Shameem says by officially reporting on a matter currently before the courts, the US government, through its representative in Fiji, should be ready to answer why it abused its freedom of expression rights as granted under the Fiji Constitution.

She says the US government ignored the limitation provisions in that section giving the courts the power to do their work without interference.

Dr Shameem says the Fiji Human Rights Commission will formally refer the US State Department Report to the chief registrar of the High Court since contempt of court is a power that can only be exercised under the jurisdiction of the court itself.

She says the commission would disregard the report and not comment on it until the court has had a chance to decide if matters in it are subjudice.