NEWS

Analysis: Reaction To Arrest Of 6 Over The Top

This is not the first time alleged breach of the Public Order Act has been investigated The Public Order Act, in the spotlight again after the arrest of three politicians,
13 Sep 2016 11:22
Analysis: Reaction To Arrest  Of 6 Over The Top
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka at Totogo Police station as he was taken in for questioning yesterday. Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

This is not the first time alleged breach of the Public Order Act has been investigated

The Public Order Act, in the spotlight again after the arrest of three politicians, a trade unionist and a non government organisation (NGO) executive, is not new.

It has been in existence since independence and was inherited from colonial Fiji’s statute books.

Annotations have been made to the Act after amendments were made over the years but the substance remains the same.

The Act was invoked in a high profile case against pioneer iTaukei nationalist Sakeasi Butadroka in 1977 after he called for the repatriation of Indo-Fijians.

Mr Butadroka, who was jailed, was a minister in the Alliance government of the then Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

The Act has also been used in other cases but they did not generate the same interest as the current case.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka, National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad, Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry, SODELPA official Tupeni Baba, Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions general secretary Attar Singh and Pacific Dialogue executive Jone Dakuvula, were interviewed and released within the prescribed 48 hours.

Their arrest and questioning had attracted criticisms  from a number of overseas organisations.

But it is understood that no rules of arrest, detention and interrogation were breached by Police under common law and statutes. Mr Rabuka and Mr Baba admitted they were well treated.

No one was beaten up. Everyone was provided with water and food and access to visit them was given to their relatives and lawyers.

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj paid tribute to the way the Police handled the investigations.

He said they were professional in their conduct. This was a normal Police routine investigation.

They have powers to act on either complaints or their own initiative to carry out an investigation.

Of the two salient provisions of the Act is the requirement to obtain a permit for a public meeting.

Secondly, the Public Order Amendment Decree, under Section 17 of the Public Order Act, said:

“That any person, who by words, spoken or written and intended to be heard or read, spread any report or made any statement which was likely to incite racial hatred of any race or community, or to promote feelings of enmity or ill-will between different races or communities, or to prejudice the public peace, or makes intimidating or threatening statements in relation to a community which is likely to spread fear, alarm or insecurity amongst members of that community, or spreads a report or makes a statement which incites people to violence, or counsels people to disobey the law or any lawful order given by the police, prison officers, or members of the armed forces, commits an offence.”

Given the facts of the case, the reaction by the overseas fraternity seems over the top.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.




5SQRS Clearance


Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper