1 May 2018

Fiji govt's reasons for stop departure questioned

8:45 am on 1 May 2018

An arch critic of the Bainimarama government in Fiji says its reasons for not allowing him to leave his homeland if he visits are highly questionable.

Shailendra Raju

Shailendra Raju Photo: Supplied

Shailendra Raju has received a letter from the director of immigration who confirmed he was on a "controversial" list and wouldn't be allowed to depart if he visited Fiji.

Mr Raju lives in New Zealand and wanted to visit his dying mother in Fiji this month but believed he would be persecuted and not allowed to leave.

She died on Thursday as he was trying to get clarification from the authorities.

Mr Raju said the authorities have referred to a 2005 bench warrant in relation to his divorce case which has since been resolved.

"I have travelled to Fiji at least 13 times between 2008 and 2011 so this issue of bench warrant is really questionable because if there was such a warrant that should have been executed in the previous trip," said Shailendra Raju.

"It raises serious questions about the reasons they have given for the travel restrictions."

Mr Raju said he was also prevented from attending his mother's funeral and he plans to sue the government.

"Clearly it's something that's been concocted and the legal process will have to determine the veracity of what they said in the letter."

A street in the government district of downtown Suva, Fiji.

A street in the government district of downtown Suva, Fiji. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Mr Raju said the warrant, which is now stale and invalid, was probably issued to get him to attend one of the court proceedings that related to his divorce which was finally settled in 2005.

Mr Raju said he was not aware of any other issues or offences that he was wanted for.

"I'll be asking my lawyers to prepare and file proceedings against the government, that is the Attorney-General and the Director of Immigration and also the Prime Minister who is also the Minister For Immigration, for this, because the reasons as stated in the letter is false and misleading and untruthful," Mr Raju said.

He said it was disturbing and saddening he could not get to his mother's funeral.

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