17 Jul 2007

Fiji regime stops Women's Crisis Centre boss from travelling

2:34 pm on 17 July 2007

Another high-profile critic of Fiji's military regime has been stopped from leaving the country.

The coordinator of Fiji's Women's Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali, was yesterday prevented from boarding a plane to Australia, where she had been invited to speak at an international feminists' summit.

It follows a similar ban on the former president of the Fiji Law Society, Graham Leung, who's been stopped from flying to New Zealand for a conference being held today.

Ms Ali says she's been in and out of Fiji three times since the coup last December, and doesn't know why she's being stopped now.

"I was quite shocked when I was told by the immigration people about 45 minutes before my flight that they had just been informed that I could not leave the country. I have no idea because there are no investigations, criminal or otherwise, pending against me."

Ms Ali, who is a Human Rights Commissioner in Fiji, says she's surprised that people in Fiji are being told their Bill of Rights is intact when they're being denied the right to free movement and speech.

A spokesman for the Commodore said yesterday it was his right to impose travel restrictions on Mr Leung, who he says has been spreading misinformation.