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Opinion: Nice Try Australia! Terrorist Prakash Not Our Problem

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist, Neil Prakash, is not a Fijian. Australia has tried hard to make him Fiji’s problem but the fact remains, Prakash was born in Melbourne in
03 Jan 2019 13:36
Opinion: Nice Try Australia! Terrorist Prakash Not Our Problem
Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist Neil Prakash and Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton.

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist, Neil Prakash, is not a Fijian. Australia has tried hard to make him Fiji’s problem but the fact remains, Prakash was born in Melbourne in 1991, to Australian parents.

His father originally came from Fiji while his mother is from Cambodia.  Both his parents hold Australian citizenship, he is an Australian by birth.

He has never set foot in Fiji. His father has never applied for Prakash to hold a Fijian citizenship. Records with the Fijian Immigration Department clearly reveal this. Director Immigration Nemani Vuniwaqa has come out and talked about this as well. He first revealed this to the Fiji Sun on Tuesday. This was picked up by the world media and of course the Australian Opposition.

A senior Defence officer remarked to Fiji Sun that Australia can try to “dump foreigners in islands like Nauru, but not Fiji.”

This is what Australia got wrong: Under the 1990 Constitution, a child born to a Fijian citizen outside of the country automatically becomes a citizen. But! And yes, there is a but! But, if the child continued to reside in the country of his birth till the time she or he turned 18, the child needs to apply to become a Fijian citizen. Prakash did not do so. Whatever status he held till he turned 18, became null and void.

Someone has certainly jumped the gun, but it is not the Fijian authorities. Fiji Sun had first emailed the Director Immigration on Saturday seeking responses on whether Prakash was a Fijian citizen and with Australia stripping him of his Australian citizenship, will we see Prakash ending up in Fiji.

He had his officers working on this for two days. Immigration officials here searched through their records to determine whether Prakash held Fijian citizenship. On Monday afternoon, Mr Vuniwaqa responded with facts – Prakash is not a Fijian. This was published in Tuesday’s Fiji Sun. He confirmed this to Reuters where he also said Australia have had no discussions with Fiji about Prakash. And then, all hell broke loose in Australia.

After much backlash, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton issued a statement claiming that the Australian government “has been in close contact with the Government of Fiji since Mr Prakash was determined to have lost his citizenship. Australia will continue our close co-operation with Fiji on this issue and the many other areas of mutual interest.”

What a loaded statement that was.

Till Tuesday, Mr Vuniwaqa had received no communication about Prakash from the Australians and now Mr Dutton claims Australia was in close contact with us? When did this happen?

He has further claimed that his advice was from the citizenship loss board. He needs to make that advice available to the Fijian Immigration authorities so that they can correct his misapprehension.

If Mr Dutton thought dealing with Fiji on this matter was the same as dealing with Nauru, he is in for a shock. Fiji will never take on an Australian reject, especially one who is being forced down our throat in a face-saving exercise. Try again Mr Dutton, but Prakash remains your problem and not ours. He is not a Fijian.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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