3 Dec 2003

Fiji adopts tough new sentencing guidelines

9:10 am on 3 December 2003

Fiji's violent robbers now face a minimum jail term of eight years under strict new sentencing guidelines issued by the chief justice, Daniel Fatiaki.

The Fiji Times reports that Justice Fatiaki has also discouraged magistrates from granting bail to suspects in major robberies and sexual offences.

His guidelines say that magistrate's court sentences should start at 8 years for large-scale organised robberies, robberies involving the use of firearms or other lethal weapons and robberies involving more than 5 thousand US dollars from financial institutions.

They also cover payroll robberies and robberies of taxi drivers, service stations and small business premises.

Mr Fatiaki says these guidelines will bring some uniformity in sentencing by different magistrates.

In one of the first applications of the new sentences, the Suva magistrate's court yesterday jailed a man for 5 years for robbing a labourer of 2 dollars.

Another man was jailed for six years for breaking into a home and stealing while the owner was at a prayer meeting.