31 Aug 2007

Director of Fiji Human Rights Commission defends her report on events of December 5th 2006

9:52 am on 31 August 2007

The director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, says critics of her report to the United Nations on the events of December 5, 2006, need help from lawyers to understand its contents.

Dr Shameem's comments on Radio Legend follow criticism of her report by the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and human rights commissioner, Shamima Ali.

Dr Shameem says Shamima Ali looks after a women's organisation and that does not make her an expert on human rights.

Dr Shameem says one needs basic legal education to be able to understand it.

Dr Shameem says Mr Qarase also needs legal advice because serious matters were discovered happening around November and December last year.

Her reports says that by authorizing the removal of Laisenia Qarase and his government, President Iloilo was exercising his sovereign power to protect both the constitution and the state of Fiji

The report says by granting immunity from prosecution to the military and its commander, the president was protecting those who carried out his wishes in the public interest.

Dr Shameem's report says in the last few days of November 2006, it became obvious to the president that Mr Qarase was acting unilaterally in breach of the constitution by failing to keep him informed of issues relating to the governance of Fiji.

The report says the president was kept in the dark about the presence of an Australian navy task force just outside Fiji waters and he was not informed about Mr Qarase's request to Australia and New Zealand for military intervention.

It also says that on December 5 Mr Qarase refused to attend a meeting with the president when called to do so.