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Court declines release application for Grace Rd directors

The High Court in Lautoka has declined the application for the release of Grace Road senior directors Daniel Kim and Sung Jin Lee  who have been declared prohibited immigrants by the Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration under section 13(2)(g) of the Immigration Act.

Both Kim and Lee appeared before Judge Justice Anare Tuilevuka on Thursday.

Justice Tuilevuka told the Court his ruling was heavily weighed on how the Fiji Court of Appeal would deal with the appeal decided on the appeal from Justice Seneviratne’s decision on the habeas corpus application.

“In my view, the question about the applicability of the ouster clauses is sub judice before the Fiji Court of Appeal and is best left alone for now.”

“On whether Kim and Lee should be released, the Constitutional issues raised are best left to Justice Seneviratne to consider in the Constitutional Redress application pending before him.”

“I must decline the application,” Justice Tuilevuka said.

In Court, it was revealed that Kim has obtained citizenship of the Republic of Vanuatu – In the event that his appeal is not successful, Kim pleads that he be taken to Vanuatu and not deported to Korea.

On August 2023, Tikoduadua declared that Sung Jin Lee, Nam Suk Choi, Byeongjoon Lee, Beoseop Shin, and Jinsook Yoon prohibited immigrants – following that decision, the Permanent Secretary then acted on the powers under section 15 of the same Act, to take the applicants into custody for the purpose of removing them from Fiji.

Justice Tuilevuka said that: “One of the questions which would then arise is whether a prohibited immigrant who is under detainment as such has the same right to personal liberty as any other person, or whether the exception to personal liberty as set out under section 9(1)(i) of the Constitution, read together with section 15(4) of the Immigration Act 2003, do work to reduce their entitlement as such?”

“The other question would be, even if the Permanent Secretary was validly exercising a statutory authority under section 15(4) to detain Kim and Lee, and was pursuing a legitimate aim in the interest of national security as argued by Mr. Green, could keeping Kim and Lee in prolonged detainment pending all their applications – be contrary to the “values that underlie a democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom” as per section 3(1) of the Constitution?”

“These questions raise an issue of proportionality which, in my view, is best left to Seneviratne J to deal with in the Constitutional Redress application before his Lordship,” Justice Tuilevuka said.

Meanwhile, the appeal hearing is scheduled for March.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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