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Beware, Keyboard Warriors

Beware, Keyboard Warriors
September 15
10:39 2018

Overseas keyboard warriors who take pot shots at Fijians here, beware.

They can no longer defame people online and think they can get away with it.

A High Court in Lautoka  gave a groundbreaking ruling yesterday.

It granted leave to lawyers of Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem to serve legal documents to a Fijian residing in New Zealand, who had allegedly defamed Mr Saneem and his family on Facebook.

Shailendra Raju, a one-time aide of former Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, is being sued for $1million and papers will be served on him.

Mr Raju has been vocal on social media, allegedly propagating fake news and allegedly defaming Fijians who do not share his political views.

Papers will be served to him on Monday at his workplace: Pulse Energy, Level 5, 33 Enfield Street, Mt Eden 1024, Auckland in New Zealand. Representing Mr Saneem is lawyer Shailend Krishna of Krishna and Company, a firm based in Lautoka.

Lawyer speaks:

Mr Krishna said this case would set the pace in Fiji for taking people to task.

He said these individuals who live in another country, behind the computer on a keyboard disparaging characters of individuals here in Fiji needed to learn and stop their attacking of individuals and their families.

“The language they use is shocking, they are obviously not productive with their time at all,” Mr Krishna said.

“If that individual thinks they are in another country and can get away with it, I seriously suggest that they think very hard again.

“There is a law called the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments in their country of residence.”

This basically means any judgment or order given or made by a court in any civil proceedings where any sum of money is made payable and includes an award in proceedings on an arbitration, if the award has in pursuance of the law, it becomes enforceable in the same manner as a judgment given by a court in that place (meaning the country of residence where the person is behind the computer on a keyboard disparaging characters of individuals in Fiji.)

“There is a difference between writing constructively and writing harmful, false allegations and hateful words on blog sites,” Mr Krishna said.

“People have to understand and appreciate that the law has developed in Fiji – and has for a very long time – in that you cannot cause imputation which injures a person’s reputation by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule or an imputation, which tends to make a person be shunned or avoided and further an imputation, which is likely to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking people.”

The case:

Mr Raju had posted a status on his Facebook page, which is open to the public, allegedly defaming Mr Saneem and his family.

When Mr Saneem informed Mr Raju of his decision to pursue this matter legally, Mr Raju allegedly removed the post and blamed a third party for sending him the information before he blocked Mr Saneem from his messenger.

However, his post had already been widely shared on other forums on Facebook and had reached more than 10,000 people.

Raju:

Mr Raju was a junior aide in the office of Mr Qarase and had claimed he could not attend his mother’s funeral in Fiji because he was on a watch list. He did not substantiate this claim. He claimed to have hired law firm Singh & Singh to respond to the legal action filed on behalf of Mr Saneem.

When contacted yesterday lawyer Anand Singh of Singh & Singh denied representing him.

“I am not acting for him,” Mr Singh confirmed.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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