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DPP draws up prosecutors guideline

 

Nov 27, 2014 11:30:29 AM

DPP draws up prosecutors guideline Fiji's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) will soon launch a new publication that sets out guidelines to be followed by prosecutors.

It also covers all aspects of prosecutions in the country.

DPP Christopher Pryde says it is important for prosecutors to familiriase themselves with the soon-to-be launched publication titled, “Guidelines for Prosecutors in Fiji (2014)”.

Addressing health sector prosecutors at a special workshop in Suva today, Pryde drew their attention on the distinction of roles they carry as as an official with the Ministry of Health on the one hand and their role as prosecutors on the other.

As an official of the Health Ministery, he says, they come under the direction, control, and authority of their permanent secretary. But in the conduct of a prosecution, they will come under the direction and control of the DPP.

As health officials, "you need to follow administrative directions or orders issued by the Permanent Secretary for Health or through his officers. Of course, you also need to act in compliance with the relevant written law, " Pryde said.

"In terms of the conduct of a prosecution, you come under the direction and control of the Director of Public Prosecutions and his officers."

This he says is in line with the 2013 Constitution which empowers the DPP as having control over criminal proceedings in Fiji other than proceedings brought by FICAC.

"A prosecution brought by Ministry of Health prosecutors is a criminal prosecution because the penalties are criminal in nature. You will find this is also reinforced under the Tobacco Control Decree at section 37 (2) which states that prosecutions under that Decree are subject to any directions issued by the DPP.

"Therefore, it is important to remember that if a direction is given by the DPP or one of his officers, for example, to withdraw a matter from prosecution you need only ensure that it is a direction from the DPP.

"Conversely, if you wish to withdraw any matter from the court you are strongly advised to first obtain the DPP’s explicit written instructions."

Pryde also encouraged health prosecutors to always seek advise from the DPP's Office if they have doubts, reminding them that they will bear the responsibility and the consequences for that decision alone.

"So, be safe, and if in doubt, seek advice.

"If you are in doubt, always seek advice and ensure that the advice isnoted on the file. This is to protect you in the event a decision is challenged later. Ultimately, all decisions related to prosecutions are made by the DPP so if the DPP has directed you to take a particular course of action, then it is the DPP that will take responsibility for that decision and not you. If however you take the decision against the direction or instructions of the DPP or without referring the matter for decision to the DPP or through his officers, then you will take the responsibility and the consequences for that decision alone."

He also reminded health prosecutors about their duties to the court in terms of making an appearance, being prepared, familiarise themselves with procedures among others be on time to any scheduled sitting.

The workshop which is currently being held at the Fiji Revenue Customs Authority (FRCA) training room in Nasese, ends tomorrow at which time participants will be issued with a Certificate of Completion.

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