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Ex-Peacekeepers ’ Claims, Dismissed for the Second Time

Ex-Peacekeepers ’ Claims, Dismissed  for the Second Time
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
October 12
11:00 2017

They were struck out because they were statute barred, meaning it’s out of time

 

The Suva High Court yesterday struck out and dismissed for the second time a case brought by members of the Fiji Peacekeeping and Action Trustee Association saying their claims were statute barred.

Section 4 of the Limitations Act (Cap 35) states that actions shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.

In relation to the case, the Fijian government had committed troops to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) between June 1978 to March 2002.

Following which the defendants of the case namely the Minister of Defence and Security, Minister for Finance, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the Attorney-General carried out government’s decision to join UNIFIL to assist the United Nations Security Council’s plan to restore peace and normalcy in South Lebanon.

The troops that were deployed were utilised to fulfil Fiji’s obligations to world peace.

Delivering his ruling yesterday, Master Vishwa Sharma stated that the same troops were now seeking redress through the Courts for prevalent injustices committed at their expense by the defendants.

Fijian troops from the RFMF took part on active military and peacekeeping operations between June 1978 and March 2002 with UNIFIL resulting in the loss of 32 lives with numerous others injured.

The association claimed that the defendants had misdirected, being negligent and/or unjustly enriched themselves and/or defrauded them and former peacekeepers of UNIFIL of their pay and allowances.

The association claimed that between June 1978 and March 2002 the UN through Fiji’s permanent mission in New York had been remitting funds to the then Finance Minister on behalf of the Fijian Government for pay and allowances for the Fijian peacekeepers.

The defendants had maintained their stance that the court did not have jurisdiction to determine the proceedings because it was statute barred as it was filed more than a decade after the cause of action.

In his ruling yesterday Master Sharma said jurisdiction to strike out claims should be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases.

He said the claim was scandalous, frivolous and vexatious in nature because the association had re-filed the same causes of action which was struck out previously.

“Even if this Court takes into account and presumes that there is/are some variations in terms of the “Cause of Action” of the Plaintiff’s action in the current case, still the Plaintiff cannot file and commence the current proceedings,” Master Sharma said.

Master Sharma said the basis of their claim did not have the effect of extending the period within which the action should have been brought.

“I find that the Plaintiff’s action before this court without any doubt is an abuse of the process of the Court.”

The plaintiffs were also ordered to pay $1500 in cost to the defendants within 14 days.

 

2014 matter

The defendants submitted that the causes of action were a breach of contract, fraud and compulsory acquisition of property.

The statement of claim was filed on April 7, 2014 which was 12 years after the cause of action arose.

The court held that it did not have jurisdiction to determine the 2014 matter because it was statute barred.

Edited by Mohammed Ali

Feedback:  fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

 

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