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Opinion

Analysis: Why The Rule Of Law Is Important

Analysis: Why The Rule Of Law Is Important
Ratu Epenisa Cakobau escorted to Police CID office in Suva on June 8, 2018.Photo: Ronald Kumar.
June 11
12:15 2018

The importance of the rule of law has been highlighted in the Vunivalu dispute.

Now some people, especially politicians, have criticised the Government over the way the dispute has been handled and the joint Police and military action to ensure that the order by the chairperson of the iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission Ratu Sireli Vananalagi Vesikula was carried out.

The order defused the tension which the chiefly row had created. It also prevented possible violence between the supporters of the two factions.

We must bear in mind that these chiefs have traditional warriors who are there to protect them and observe strict protocols aimed at preserving the dignity of the chiefly system.

When there is a split in the vanua it invariably leads to division among the structures that constitute it, including the role of the warriors.

They are at the command of their chiefs.

In the old days these divisions often resulted in tribal wars and bloodshed.

We don’t want that to happen today.

That’s why we need the law, which was followed by Ratu Sireli.

Those who criticise his action and the action of the Police and military are not only politicising the issue, but are irresponsible and obviously have no idea of the serious implications of this issue.

This is not the time to play politics and score cheap political points. There are more serious matters at stake here.

First we cannot afford to politicise the chiefly system for our own narrow sectional interests and to score cheap political points.

They are either ignorant or they deliberately ignore the seriousness of this issue.

Imagine if there was no law. We could be seeing a totally different picture.

Even more serious was if we failed to activate the law.

That would tantamount to a breakdown in the rule of the law. And if that happened we would be heading towards civil unrest and anarchy.

People must realise that it is absolutely crucial for our peace and stability that we respect the rule of law because it protects everyone from unlawful activities.

For the iTaukei the commission is there to protect them, their culture and resources. It adjudicates in disputes to ensure that proper protocols are followed.

In the case of the Vunivalu row this was not followed and hence Ratu Sireli’s order to stop the installation of Ratu Epenisa.

Police are conducting their investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) will be given the file.

The ODPP will determine whether the law has been breached and whether charges should be laid. That’s the process of the law.

The next step is the matter goes to court where those accused have the opportunity to defend themselves.

The court then makes its ruling. We have seen cases where the accused have been acquitted.

We have a robust justice system where everyone is given a fair go.

The rule of law and our justice system are important pillars of our young democracy. That’s why we must protect them and in turn they protect us.

It means no one is above the law, including the chiefs.

Any traditional activity that breaches the law must come under scrutiny.

So it is important for us to look at the Vunivalu title issue in its proper perspective.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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