Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Anti Corruption Division to be dis-established

Parliament has passed the High Court (Amendment) Bill, seeking to amend the High Court Act 1875 to dis-establish the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court and the Anti-Corruption Division of the Magistrates Court.

During the vote, 29 voted yes, 24 voted no and 2 had not voted.

Speaking on his motion, the Attorney-General Siromi Turaga said the amendments made in 2021 did not provide any specific improvement to the administration for dealing with anti-corruption matters.

He said that in some instances cases were dealt with outside the respective Anti-Corruption Division such as proceedings on the outer island.

Turaga said these amendments provided the Anti-Corruption Divisions with the jurisdiction to hear matters with respect to proceedings instituted pursuant to Section 12B of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption 2007 in relation to offences under section 2 of the FICAC Act and any other matter referred to the Anti-Corruption divisions.

The Minister for Lands Filimoni Vosarogo said the establishment of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption came by as a decree in April 2007.

Vosarogo said the establishment of FICAC in 2007 by the Interim Government was seen a flashy item at that time to justify the Bainimarama takeover of an elected government.

He said it was flabbergasting to note that the Bainimarama Government failed to establish the Specialised Court 14 years after, the creation of FICAC in 2007.

“The set-up of the Anti-Corruption Division was not warranted then, nor do we see any reason why it is not warranted now.”

Vosarogo added that no consultation was done with the Fiji Law Society, practitioners, and relevant stakeholders – By that it lacked the energy to bolster the support of both sides of the House at that time.

However, the Leader of Opposition Inia Seruiratu questioned whether the amendment was to dis-establish the workings of the FijiFirst Government or whether it is a problem in the law or the process to effectively support the law.

Seruiratu said there was a wide consultation done, with over 1000 consultations done.

He said the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Division in the High Court and in the Magistrate Court to support the workings of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

In his Right of Reply on his motion, the Attorney-General said that the delay in the Courts were systemic and chronic and that the Acting Chief Justice is reviewing the systems in place.

Turaga said it is the intention of the Coalition Government to localise Fiji’s Court.

“It is unfair to note that local Magistrates and Justices salaries were not the same of those that were contracted from overseas.”

“New processes are being looked at to move forward to addressing these issues,” Turaga said.

Meanwhile, the amended legislation will come into force on a date appointed by the Attorney-General as the Minister by notice in form of a Gazette.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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