5 May 2008

Fiji interim Government called on to reverse controversial immigration law change

3:24 pm on 5 May 2008

The president of Fiji's Law Society, Isireli Fa says the interim administration needs to immediately withdraw an amendment which extends the power of the Minister of Immigration in deportation cases.

This follows the sudden deportation of the Fiji Times publisher Evan Hannah last Friday.

In late February, following the deportation of the publisher of the Fiji Sun, Russell Hunter, the interim regime changed the Immigration act - one of a number of amendments without reference to Parliament since the coup in December 2006.

Isireli Fa says it is unconstitutional, as it removes the court process altogether and makes it virtually impossible to appeal the Minister's decision in deportation cases.

"the issue and controversy here is a new amendment to our Immigration Act which seems to give an unfettered power and discretion to the Minister, to deport someone from Fiji, who in his or her opinion, is deemed a threat to the country."

The president of Fiji's Law Society Isireli Fa.

A former president of the Law Society says the failure of Fiji's Human Rights Commission to denounce flagrant breaches of human rights has not gone unnoticed around the world.

Graham Leung says the failure by the Human Rights Commission to comment on the deportation of Mr Hannah is laughable.

He told the Fiji Times the Commission hadn't been a credible and independent body since December 2006 when the military staged a coup.

The Commission is not commenting on the deportation.

An official referred all queries on the deportation to the Attorney-General's Chambers or the Ministry of Information.

Fiji's former Opposition Leader, Mick Beddoes, says he's appalled by the latest deportation and has asked the Ombudsman to investigate.

Despite their excuses, they are really attempting to muzzle the media as best they can and this is a form of intimidation that they are trying to use and they are hiding behind certain immigration provisions that allows them to do this.

Mick Beddoes