3 Dec 2002

Fiji Opposition Leader threatens suit over roadblock

11:28 am on 3 December 2002

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, is promising to sue the government for 5 million US dollars if what he calls state sponsored extortion is not stopped by Friday.

He is referring to the plight of a group of over 80 ethnic Indian farming families in the hinterlands of Sigatoka, who have to pay sums of up to 10 US dollars at a roadblock set up by landowners on the only public access road from the area.

The cash demands have continued for several years with no action from the government, the Human Rights Commission and members of parliament.

Mr Beddoes says he will sue the government and police for failing to protect the rights of citizens and seek redress through the courts.

He says it is appalling that the government and the justice system can stand idly by while people have been subjected to illegal, unconstitutional and inhumane blackmail and extrotion by a group of misguided landowners.

"the Government is demonstrating its inability to uphold the law and to protect their interests....now, I am not saying that the landowners do not have an issue - they do obviously have an issue and they feel very strongly about it, but their case is against the government, not against these innocent people, so they should direct their grievance towards the government and probably join in the lawsuit I am going to do next week"

Mick Beddoes.