Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sound & Fury?

Australia Network News (ANN) covering the allegations of Fiji Independent Commission Against Corrruption (FICAC) and political interference.

FICAC website

There is much to be said about interference, whether it involves cases in Fiji or abroad concerning political interference in judiciary, the effects of judicial activism or both.

In this regard it is based on allegations made by a Sri Lankan born, former FICAC prosecutor, Madhwa Tenakoon . ANN posted video,  interviews Radio Australia host Bruce Hill, whose full audio interview is posted subsequently.

FICAC is independent – Sayed-Khaiyum
Fiji Village
Publish date/time: 17/08/2011 [09:13]

The Attorney General stresses that the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption is an independent body investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has rejected the claims made on the ABC by Sri Lankan lawyer and former Manager Legal for FICAC Madhwa Tenakoon of political interference.
Sayed-Khaiyum said Tenakoon was dismissed for under performance. He said Tenakoon’s information is not credible.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Radio Australia Pacific Beat, Audio (MP3 posted below) [Segment on Fiji 0-15mins]

ICJ to investigate Fiji legal allegations

Radio Australia
Updated August 17, 2011 16:45:08

The independence of Fiji's legal system is to be examined by the International Commission of Jurists, following allegations of political interference.

The claims were made on Radio Australia by a former senior prosecutor with Fiji's Independent Commission Against Corruption, Madhawa Tenakoon.

The Sri Lankan lawyer says individuals have been targeted for prosecution because they are opponents of the coup installed military government.

However Sri Lanka's honorary consul in Fiji, Ajith Kodagoda, says none of the other Sri Lankan lawyers or judges working in Fiji have complained to him about interference by the government in their work.

But John Dowd QC, President of the Australian branch of the ICJ, says the allegations from the former FICAC prosecutor are serious and warrant further scrutiny.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: John Dowd QC, President of the Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists; Ajith Kodagoda, Sri Lanka's honorary consul in Fiji

DOWD: We will examine the issue as best we can. I'm here in Bangkok at our regional office at the moment and we need to highlight this. The Fiji government is obviously very concerned about what other organisations think about it, so we will examine the matter and try and bring pressure to bear on them to set up perhaps with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting some examination of Fiji to see what can be done to bring it back into rule of law.

HILL: Mr Dowd believes Fiji's legal system faces a fundamental problem of legitimacy.

DOWD: Once you get an illegitimate regime and this regime of course is not set up under the Fijian Constitution, you're bound to have this sort of problem. The difficulty that when they approach judges to sit there is that the judges are in fact not exercising proper legal authority, but that doesn't stop judges getting the decision right. The fact that they're legally supporting the regime doesn't mean they won't do the right thing.

HILL: But Sri Lanka's honorary consul in Fiji, Ajith Kodagoda, insists that the allegations of interference are coming from only one Sri Lankan lawyer. He says none of the other almost two hundred Sri Lankan legal professionals working in Fiji have complained to him.

KODAGODA: Nobody Bruce has brought any of this to my attention officially, none of the prosecutors or the lawyers or the judges. About two years ago, the Fiji government made official representations which has been for assistance in filling up some of the division we can see in Fiji and then I made contact with my counterpart in Australia, the High Commissioner and also the foreign ministry in Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan government officially from the president onwards sanctioned, the judicial officers to come and work in a friendly country even Fiji. So as far as I'm aware of it, it was done with the sanction of the Sri Lankan government and most of these officers are no pay leave or they're on all paid leave, so they are almost seconded to be serving the Fiji judiciary.
And at this stage we've probably got about 30 officers working in the judicial capacity. I've really personally heard no complaints from anybody. I understand this particular officer was dismissed by the FICAC about three months or two months ago, so he's apparently alleging that there are allegations that there was interference in his work which he didn't bring to my notice here. So like I said, nobody's complained to me as of now.

HILL; Are these allegations any source of concern for you though?

KODAGODA: Very hard to ...(inaudible) because nobody has made any specific allegations to me in my capacity as honorary consul. If somebody was uncomfortable, I would expect them to come and talk to me directly, if they're intimidated in any way or if there is any influence on them, then I would really expect them to come and talk to me. Apparently he's been working here for two years, so I don't know if he was uncomfortable, why he continued to work in Fiji for that long. And this particular case that he's talking about I think came in front of a Sri Lankan high court judge and I think the case was dismissed anyway. So I expect all the judicial officers here to be totally independent and so far I haven't had complaints from either party. This has been going on, the judicial officers have been coming here before my time 1980s onwards.

HILL: The ICJ's John Dowd says overseas lawyers and judges should stay away from Fiji entirely.

DOWD: The regime is not legitimate under the rule of law, the regime is not under the Constitution, therefore any judge that takes the position gives legitimacy to regime that's illegitimate and we in the ICJ are opposed to people taking positions. It doesn't mean that they won't do the right thing when they get there, but it's not legally the right thing, because of the lack of constitutional basis.

HILL: Do you think that judges from places like Australia and New Zealand and the UK should be prevented from taking jobs in Fiji or should there be sanctions against them once they return home?

DOWD: No, I don't think what they do in other countries is a matter for them, it's not for Australia to interfere, it's for Australia to protest.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Truth or Dare?

Fiji anti-IG blog posting raises some important questions about U.S selective policy regarding their own interests, on which there is no debate.
Intelligentsiya: Truth and Rhetoric: Why the US selectively backs F...: "When fellow bloggers from Real Fiji News posted up their expose on the US's tacit support (despite all the rich political rhetoric ) [...]"

Radio Fiji (R.F)article on the matter. Excerpt of R.F article below:
Cables confirm Qarase sought Australia military intervention
Friday, August 12, 2011

Leaked cables released by Wikileaks confirm that Fiji's former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase sought the intervention of the Australian Military during the December 2006 takeover.

According to the cable - then Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the press on December 5, 2006 - that Qarase had telephoned him that morning to request for military intervention to prevent a coup.

Howard stated he had declined the request as it was 'not in Australia's national interest' to intervene - adding he could not countenance Australian and Fijian troops fighting each other on the streets of Suva.

In response to the takeover - Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer imposed bans on defense, travel and trade on Fiji.

Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) article outlines Australian Government efforts to side line Fiji from UN peacekeeping.

Excerpt of SMH article:
Push to block Fiji from UN peacekeeping
Jonathan Pearlman Foreign Affairs Correspondent
April 29, 2009

THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, says the United Nations should look at punishing Fiji's military rulers by further limiting the involvement of its soldiers in peacekeeping forces - a move that would seriously damage the country's economy.

Australia and New Zealand have been leading efforts to pressure Fiji's interim government over its recent abrogation of the constitution and crackdown on the media and the judiciary.

Covered ... Fiji's economy is reliant on peacekeeping payments.
Photo: AP

(Note by SiFM Image above was from 1996 Qana massacre, caused by Israeli shelling of a Fiji BATT UN refugee compound, where dead bodies were cropped out. It was covenient for SMH to omit the origin of the image, ironically, 15 year anniversary is in 2011.)

Original Caption: The bodies of Shiite Muslim refugees lay covered by blankets at the headquarters of the Fijian battalion attached to the U.N. peacekeeping forces in the village of Qana, Lebanon Thursday, April 18, 1996 after Israeli shelling killing at least 70 and wounding at least 100. (AP Photo)   

More images of 1996 Qana massacre. Journalist  Robert Fisk eye-witness account of Qana.  Video of incident. BBC article.
The country's military ruler, Frank Bainimarama, seized power in a bloodless coup in 2006 and has backed away from earlier plans to hold elections this year.
Advertisement: Story continues below

Mr Rudd discussed the crackdown at a meeting in Canberra yesterday with Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare. The two agreed to press ahead with efforts to suspend Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum. "Australia's position is hardline," Mr Rudd said. "You cannot sustain within a family of democracies [such as] the Pacific Island Forum or the Commonwealth a government like that of Fiji which simply treats with contempt the most fundamental democratic institutions and press freedoms.

"Through our interventions with the United Nations, supported by New Zealand and other countries, the UN now is not going to engage future Fijian troops for new operations. There is a question which now arises as to whether there should be a further tightening on top of that."

Fiji's economy is heavily reliant on UN payments for peacekeeping contributions and remittances from soldiers abroad. About 600 soldiers serve as peacekeepers in Lebanon, Iraq, East Timor and in the Sinai.

Fiji's interim government dismissed claims it would not be allowed to provide further peacekeepers, saying the UN had not taken action against other countries that have had coups.

"Precedents have been set, like Pakistan, Thailand, all these are very big troop contributing countries to the UN, so what are they talking about?" a government spokesman, Neumi Leweni, told the news website Fijilive.

Two commentators on Fiji from the Australian National University, Jon Fraenkel and Stewart Firth, have argued in a new book that UN peacekeeping operations helped build up the strength of Fiji's military and led to the coups in 1987 and 2006.

"Over the 30 years since 1978, around 25,000 Fiji soldiers have served on overseas peace-keeping missions, bringing home an estimated $US300 million [$428 million]," they write in The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji: A Coup to End All Coups?, published by ANU E Press.

"In recent years the Iraq War has brought more income to Fiji … Tens of thousands of Fijians have served in foreign theatres in almost 30 years of peacekeeping … The overall effect has been to boost the morale of officers and troops … and to professionalise the [force] as a military institution."

Although, Australian Government efforts coupled with an online petition drive by the likes of overseas based Fijian political opportunists were ineffective and Fiji continued its commitment to peacekeeping missions unabated.

Fiji reiterates commitment to UN peacekeeping

05-10-2011 15:12 BJT
Text:A A A |Email
Share |

SUVA, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Fiji has reiterated its firm commitment to peacekeeping and peace-building around the world, saying it is a manifestation of the island nation's trust in the multilateralism of the United Nations.

Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Peter Thomson made the remarks in a speech during his recent visit to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) first Battalion at its Baghdad garrison, the Ministry of Information said in a press release Tuesday.

For all Fijians, "it can be said with great national pride, that from just a few years after Fiji's independence, UN peacekeeping has been central to Fiji's foreign policy," Thomson was quoted as saying.

This has been so because "Fiji is determined to play a positive role as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, and because small countries like ours depend on membership of the United Nations for our security, sovereignty and independence," he said.

According to the Fijian envoy, to date, Fiji's peacekeepers have served in Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Sinai, Solomon Islands, Somalia and Timor Leste.

In thanking the Fijian men and women peacekeeping soldiers in Baghdad, Thomson praised them for "doing a difficult job in a dangerous environment and holding Fiji's name high".

The RFMF first Battalion has since 2004 served as the UN Guard Unit (UNGU), made up of 223 Fijians led by Colonel Netani Rika. It is tasked with guarding the facilities and personnel of the United Nations as they undertake their work of assisting the Iraqi people rebuild their nation.

Thomson said he had heard nothing but praise from UN representatives in New York and Iraq for the battalion's conduct of duties, adding he was in Iraq to show them the respect they deserved and to thank them on behalf of the government and people of Fiji for their service.

Posted below are videos of Fiji soldiers in Iraq interacting with US personnel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Fair Exchange Is No Robbery.

The magazine Island Business reports that  the dead line for comprehensive accord for Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Pacific African Caribean Pacific (PACP) and the European Union (E.U) has been shifted to 2012.

Fiji's position on EPA.

PANG paper  (PDF) on EPA.

Fiji Sun article quotes from Pacific Island Forum chair, on the pending negotiations. The excerpt of Fiji Sun article:

Pacific ACP should work together
writer : RACHNA LAL

The need for the Pacific African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to work together in the negotiation of a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been highlighted at the meeting in Papua New Guinea.Trade Ministers from the Pacific ACP Group of States are meeting in Port Moresby to finalise positions, including market access offer and arrangement in preparation for the next round of negotiations for an EPA with the European Union (EU).
Secretary general of the Forum Secretariat Tuiloma Neroni Slade said, with the exception of Fiji and PNG, who have signed an interim EPA to protect their key exports to the EU, all other Pacific ACP countries continue their engagement as single region.
“The Pacific ACP States and the European Commission agree that the interim Agreement is a stepping stone towards a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and that is the basis for our continued engagement.
“We need to ensure that the comprehensive Agreement provides the Pacific ACP States an improved framework and greater market access relative to the interim Agreement,” he said.
Pacific ACP countries and the European Commission have been negotiating the PACP - EU EPA since 2004.
Mr Slade pointed out the European Commission has indicated that they will not be interested in meeting with the Pacific region or offering the region flexibilities on contentious issues unless the region submitted revised market access offers in the required format.
He therefore announced eight Pacific ACP State have submitted their conditional market access offer to the EU and work continues in the remaining four countries to develop their market access offers.
“This now empowers the Pacific ACP region to demand of the European Commission reciprocal focus and seriousness about the negotiations and show flexibility.
“The offers submitted by these eight countries are conditional on the satisfactory resolution of a number of unresolved contentious issues. These include the issue of development co-operation provisions, export taxes, infant industry, standstill clause, the Most-Favoured Nation provisions, the non-execution clause, taxation and governance issues, market access and rules of origin for fisheries products amongst other issues.
Mr Slade further proposed lifting the Kava ban placed on Kava-producing countries.
“We are now at that juncture of the negotiation where we need to look into all the unresolved contentious issues and determine the impact that these issues would have on our economies if they stay unresolved.
“We have to consider a proposal from the Kava-producing countries suggesting that we actively pursue with the European Commission, through the current negotiations, lifting the ban currently imposed by a number of EU members on the import of kava.
“The kava industry is certainly very important in a number of Pacific ACP States and has the potential of channeling development benefits at the grassroots level.
“We need to determine the best way forward in supporting this initiative,” he said.

Roman Grynberg On A.C.P Negotiations

  • The ‘A’ (Africa) is too important to Europe’s prosperity and something more coherent and intelligent than the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will replace it.

  • The EPA is so weak, fragile and ill-conceived in Africa that other rising powers will be able to have much better access than the EU to Africa’s resources.

  • C & P, due largely to their complete irrelevance to the commercial interests of the EU will surely be dealt with in the context of the EPAs, but the EU, like India and China, will continue to need access to Africa’s vast resources.

  • The Caribbean and the Pacific are being increasingly differentiated from Africa.

  • After 2020 the ACP group will become part of post-colonial history [...]And that makes the C (Caribbean) & P (Pacific) redundant in the equation, argues Grynberg, who until 2009 was the Director of Economic Governance at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

  • Pacific Island Forum position also is reflected in the sentiments by former Caribbean diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders that appeared in the Jamaican Observer article:

    The 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries should use the strength of their combined numbers and access to their natural resources to demand a voice in global economic and financial arrangements that directly affect their economic well-being and the welfare of their people.
    With resources ranging from oil to gold, diamonds, timber, bauxite and a range of natural resources to which the rich countries of the world want access, the ACP countries miscalculate the clout that they could exercise in unison to demand a better share of the world's wealth.

    They also underestimate how powerful a force they could be in international organisations if they could agree to vote together. Effectively, they could be a blocking force or a strong bargaining entity with the rich and powerful countries that need wider support to achieve their own national ambitions. They could also bargain more strongly and with more advantageous results if they could agree - and adhere - to standards that they would apply to foreign investors who now play them off against each other.
    The problem is that, even though the agreement that established the ACP allows the grouping to bargain collectively with any third party, the ACP has confined its activity to negotiations with the European Union (EU). Further, the group lacks unity - a fact well known to the EU and to other rich nations. This lack of unity has been exploited by the EU, and others, to keep the ACP divided and weak. Therefore, the group has failed to realise the enormous potential it has for bargaining more effectively for its member states.
    Of course, there is an argument that the interests of ACP countries are so diverse, and even competitive, that it would be difficult (some would argue that it would be impossible) for them to agree on objectives and negotiating positions that would serve their collective interests.

    However, another perspective of the EPA negotiations with EU was published in Island Business (I.B) magazine article.
    The excerpt of I.B article:

    TRADE: The future of ACP, Europe relations

    What happens after Cotonou expires in 2020?

    * Makereta Komai 

    ACP–EU relations have been in existence for quite a while but what great gains has it achieved, for at least one of its small islands member in the Pacific, Palau, asks its former Vice President, Sandra Pierantozzi. Pierantozzi is one of hundreds of contributors in an online discussion on the future relationship between the rich global north (European Union) and its former dependencies in the global south (African, Caribbean and Pacific). 
    The online discussion has generated vigorous debate so far. Reactions have been posted from various parts of Africa, the Caribbean, Pacific and Europe.“To me, it’s a mistake to group so many countries from several very different and distant regions of the world together. “Within each region are so many countries, peoples, cultures and so on, with just as varied socio-economic needs. “I agree that trade, not aid, is the best way to develop these countries to a self sufficient level of development. “However, applying the same guidelines and levels of assistance, financial and in kind, to resource-rich African countries and resource-limited small islands nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean may be more destructive than helpful,” said Pierantozzi. 
    Could this spell the fragmentation of the 79-member ACP group into its three different regions, ending the world’s largest North-South political and economic co-operation? Judging from the various comments posted in the online discussion, there is a growing feeling, at least in Europe that the Europeans are only interested in the natural resources of Africa, now being aggressively pursued by China and India.
    “The ‘A’ (Africa) is too important to Europe’s prosperity and something more coherent and intelligent than the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will replace it, said Professor Roman Grynberg, also posting on the discussion forum. “The EPA is so weak, fragile and ill-conceived in Africa that other rising powers will be able to have much better access than the EU to Africa’s resources. 
    And that makes the C (Caribbean) & P (Pacific) redundant in the equation, argues Grynberg, who until 2009 was the Director of Economic Governance at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
    “C & P, due largely to their complete irrelevance to the commercial interests of the EU, will surely be dealt with in the context of the EPAs, but the EU, like India and China, will continue to need access to Africa’s vast resources.
    “The Caribbean and the Pacific are being increasingly differentiated from Africa. After 2020 the ACP group will become part of post-colonial history,” according to Grynberg. 
    But Vanuatu’s top diplomat in Brussels thinks otherwise. Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy holds the view that “the EU will not let go of the ACP easily because of the close political, social and economic ties built over 35 years”.“The writing is on the wall for us and it’s no secret that the status quo must change fundamentally. “While we hope to count on Europe’s generosity, we must take full responsibility of our own development,” said Ambassador Joy. 
    For us in the Pacific, we can determine our own future with the EU if “we remain fully and meaningfully engaged with them in the coming years”. And this means concluding the Economic Partnership Agreement at the earliest time to show our commitment to the partnership. “While no size fits all in terms of the negotiations, the Pacific needs to find the right formula to reflect the collective interests of its 14 members in the EPA talks, said Ambassador Joy.

    Some political commentators say the only hope for small islands nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific would be to establish Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union. 

    The Caribbean as a region, through CARIFORUM, initialled an EPA with the EU in 2008, while the Pacific is attempting to conclude negotiations and sign up by December this year. Some, from both sides of the equation, are asking for an honest clarification from the EU on how it wants to further the development co-operation with the ACP after 2020.

    One respondent said the ACP could become a slimmed down ‘niche’ entity—perhaps without the Caribbean and Pacific members, who are already working on separate EPAs with the EU. 

    Whatever form it will take after 2020, the new entity could become the trade arm of the African Union, suggested the respondent. 

    Or as this respondent said, the key question is whether there is still a role for an ACP configuration. However, he suggested a radical reshuffle of the current set-up.Then there are those who have sentimental attachment to the 35 years of development co-operation between the two groups and see a future in the partnership.Former Director General for Development at the European Commission, Dieter Frisch commenting on the same online discussion said, “The relationship is evolving and will remain relevant and substantive beyond 2020. 

    “There is no use predicting the end of a privileged relationship as long as no other and better and politically feasible model has been drawn up.”Frisch said the question of the raison d’être of the ACP-Group was their right from the outset: on the European side many of us were indeed surprised when in 1973 six Caribbean and three Pacific countries decided to join forces with the Africans. “While they had some problems in common with Africa (e.g. sugar), their main motivation was political, being part of an important group of 46 negotiators led by Nigeria—a member of the then just founded OPEC—and sharing its bargaining power.The director of ACP General Affairs at the European Commission, Klaus Rudischhauser said the Cotonou Agreement is not “done and old but rather active and working very well”.“This is why it can be used as a very good model. Compared to the partnership of the EU with Africa as a whole, Cotonou is different and more established, it is the most wide-ranging agreement of the EU,” Rudischhauser said.
    ACP’s comparative advantage
    EU’s expanding global agenda has nothing to do with the ACP, apart from further marginalising the group while exposing them to more exploitation. 

    The earlier the ACP group realises that development can never be achieved through aid and preferences the better, he added.

    The expanding global agenda is meant to protect and enhance EU interests without necessarily promoting the ACP-EU relations where interests in other regions are more important. As a consequence, the new global agenda can only drive the last nail into the coffin of an already hopeless relationship that has not helped the ACP group to attain any meaningful development.
    “We see the emerging economies becoming more active in the ACP countries by way of exploiting the available resources with impunity. ACP countries have continued to export commodities and unprocessed raw materials to the emerging economies and importing poor quality products, like it has always been with the EU, wrote Edmund Paul Kalkyezi.
    He strongly supported a move towards forging a new partnership with emerging economies like China and India.“They should review the relations with all their trading partners and determine the development path they want to take even if this means abandoning the EU.
    ACP, which consists of countries from both ends of the political and economic spectrum, is assessing its strengths and weaknesses to determine its future, in nine years time.The ACP group could assert itself as a global player based on its collective human and natural resources, its historical links with the EU as well as its proximity to emerging economies. 
    A member of the European Parliament, Ska Keller said South-South co-operation is crucial if the ACP is to stay relevant in the transformed geopolitical environment now facing the globe. “I do find South-South cooperation crucial in light of the experience the emerging donors have in fighting poverty in their own country. “The ACP and EU have lots of common interests to bring forward on the global agenda, like the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, the preservation of public goods, etc. These are aims that can only be achieved together,” said Keller.
    The ACP-EU relations can serve as an example to other regions in the world. It is about identifying the positive things that work and expand these to other regions in the world. 

    Future perspectives post-2020

    On 6 June, the ACP celebrated its 36th anniversary in Brussels. It was an opportune time for Secretary-General Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas to reiterate his challenge to the 79-member group to re-assess its place in the world as its key partner, the European Union, undergoes changes.

    “I need not remind us that our world is changing with breathtaking rapidity. “Globalisation imposes new competitive pressures on the economies of our member countries even as the rules-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) international trading regime no longer accommodates the privileged trading arrangements that we once enjoyed with Europe.

    “We also face a new era of uncertainties. The New Europe, with its changing institutional architecture and emerging geopolitical priorities, poses a challenge for us to reassess our place in the world.“While we appreciate the support we have continued to receive from our EU partners, it is evident that we must take our future into our own hands while embracing a South-South cooperation and the opportunities opened up by the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil.”Hope is not lost within the ACP. It has a nine-year timeline to come up with various options and scenarios for the group after 2020. From this year, the ACP Secretariat will engage in an outreach and consultation campaign to elicit opinions and ideas from all stakeholders which include the EU and ACP regional organisations, other developing countries and organisations of developing countries (G77, G24 & Non-Aligned Movement).
    Submission of a report on the outreach exercise, including conclusions and concrete proposals will form the final future perspective of the ACP Group, according to the draft report of the ACP Committee of Ambassador’s Working Group tasked with the future perspectives of ACP.A study will be commissioned to examine the continued relevance of ACP as a group in the new and evolving global environment. The study will also review ACP’s privileged relations and co-operation with the EU, taking into account the second Revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the Lisbon Treaty as well as relations with other development partners.
    So does the ACP-EU relationship have what it takes to survive? As one respondent puts it…“The status quo is not good enough, dramatic changes will have to occur if the relationship is not to be subsumed by EU’s other partnerships in the developing world.”

    *Makereta Komai is the Editor of PACNEWS, the news arm of Pacific Islands News Association.     

    What prompted the review 
    When it was signed in 2000, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the European Union was widely viewed as offering an ambitious and innovative agenda that would enhance political dialogue, encourage the participation of non-state actors and result in a more effective development cooperation framework. 
    It therefore went beyond the narrow trade and aid focus that was the hallmark of earlier ACP-EU treaties, right from the first post-independence framework agreed in Yaoundé in 1963 through the four successive Lomé conventions implemented between 1975 and 2000.Increasingly however, it appears that a constellation of global changes and internal dynamics has thrown the future of the partnership wide open.
    A key driver in this has been the adoption of the new Lisbon Treaty in 2009, under which the EU has embarked on fundamental institutional reorganisation to strengthen its position as a global player. This includes a review of all existing EU partnership agreements on a geopolitical basis and along regional lines that has undermined the unity of the ACP Group and heightened doubts on the relevance of the ACP-EU framework.
    Further complicating these internal dynamics is the growing political and economic muscle of the emerging powers, which has opened up new avenues of cooperation for developing countries.  It is not surprising that one of the very first actions taken by the incoming ACP Secretary General, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, was to appoint an Ambassadorial Working Group on the Future Perspectives of the ACP Group after 2020.    
    —By J Laporte

    Given the various observations on the Pacific ACP negotiations with EU regarding Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), no word has been mentioned by regional observers on the current debt crisis in the Euro zone and the Greece like contagion, of which, even the U.K is not immune to, according to Daily Telegraph article.

    Furthermore, the multiplier effects of the euro zone debt crisis in the Pacific region, to which the EPA is viewed. Given that the EPA deadline has since shifted to Dec 2012, the space of time may be a unique opportunity for Pacific ACP states to reevaluate the status of global economy and strongly prompt for re-negotiation of terms.

    Wednesday, August 03, 2011

    The Exception Proves The Rule.

    Earlier SiFM posts regarding the Julian Moti affair. Radio Australia online article on the issue.
    Julian Moti
    Julian Moti.

    Finally, Moti's day
    Solomon Star
    TUESDAY, 02 AUGUST 2011 09:40E-mailPrint

    Senior World Socialist Web Site journalist Patrick O'Connor is the only Australian journalist to have followed the Julian  Moti court case from its beginning.  
    He specialises in reportage on Australian involvement in the Pacific Islands for the World Socialist Web Site, and has spotlighted bias in Australian newspaper coverage of the affair.Australia's High Court will hear the appeal of Fiji-born former Solomon Islands attorney general Julian Moti.Moti has waged a five year battle against the Australian government's attempt to prosecute him on what he alleges are "politically motivated" statutory rape allegations. 
    More than a decade ago, a Vanuatu court threw out sexual assault allegations against the Australian citizen.The case was only revived by Australian diplomatic officials in 2004, as part of a campaign to prevent Moti from becoming attorney general of the Solomons.The international and constitutional lawyer was regarded as an opponent of Canberra's agenda in the Pacific, including the neo-colonial intervention force, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).The Australian charges laid against Moti, based on sex tourism legislation, were used to remove him from the Solomons in December 2007, after a protracted regime change drive by Canberra resulted in Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare losing office. 
    Moti was immediately arrested upon his forcible removal to Australia. For the last three and a half years he has lived without any source of income, and has been forced to comply with stringent bail conditions. He has challenged the Australian government's prosecution on the grounds that the entire case is a politically motivated and improper abuse of the judicial system, based on illegal conduct on the part of the Australian government and Australian Federal Police (AFP). 
    In December 2009, the Queensland Supreme Court issued a permanent stay of proceedings, barring Moti's prosecution, on the grounds that extraordinary payments made by the AFP to the family of the alleged victim had brought "the administration of justice into disrepute" and were "an affront to the public conscience."The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) subsequently appealed, and the decision was overturned by the Queensland Supreme Court of Appeal in July last year. Moti is now presenting the matter to the High Court for final deliberation. 
    Last April, the High Court agreed to hear the case on two grounds - the so-called witness payments and the legality of Moti's removal from the Solomons in December 2007. [WSWS article]Moti's counsel has always maintained that the former attorney general's extraction to Australia was an illegal rendition or kidnapping-not, as it was formally presented, a deportation legally ordered and organised by the Solomon Islands' government-and that the Australian judiciary was obligated to refuse to put him on trial because of this. 
    Under established legal precedent, courts must permanently bar a prosecution if the accused has been unlawfully transported from a foreign country. This includes cases where an ostensible deportation is actually a "disguised extradition". 
    Moti argues that Australian diplomatic officials and AFP agents colluded and connived in the extraction, despite "knowing full well of the blatant illegality of what was proposed".This question was summarily dismissed by both the Queensland Supreme Court and Queensland Supreme Court of Appeal, but the High Court has made clear its interest in considering the matter. The final decision by the seven High Court judges is likely to prove a major legal landmark. 
    The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions maintains that the Australian courts cannot adjudicate whether Moti's removal from the Solomons in December 2007 broke that country's laws. The matter, they argue, is "not justiciable' in the Australian legal system. 
    In written submissions to the High Court, Moti's counsel, Ian Barker QC, challenged this argument. "It is obvious that the conduct of the Solomon Islands Government must be examined in order to determine whether Australia connived at it," he explained.Barker said that the principle of non-justiciability did not extend to conduct by a state that breaches international law, and that Moti's human rights had been violated in contravention of international law. 
    The defence argues that the so-called deportation was illegal, as it was enforced in violation of a statutory right of appeal and also breached a magistrates' court order specifically prohibiting Moti's deportation. Moreover, the deportation "amounted to a disguised extradition, in the sense that it was clearly for the improper purpose of ensuring the appellant [Moti] faced charges in Australia, and involved the deliberate circumvention of extradition procedures". 
    The events surrounding Moti's removal from the Solomons are a microcosm of the political and judicial state of affairs under RAMSI. Canberra dispatched the intervention force in 2003 as a means of bolstering its domination of the country, and the region, against rival powers, particularly China. 
    Ever since, Australian officials have maintained control of the Solomons' state apparatus-including its police, prisons, courts, and finance and other key government departments-while maintaining the legal fiction that the country and its government retain full sovereignty.With Moti's extraction, the CDPP insists that the Solomon Islands' government decided on deportation and the Australian government did nothing other than respect this sovereign decision. According to Moti's counsel, however, "Australian officials encouraged and assisted the appellant's unlawful rendition to Australia". 
    As early as October 2006, Australian officials had expressed their hope that Moti would be deported from the Solomons rather than face extradition proceedings, which would likely have involved Moti making lengthy appeals. In December 2007, immediately after the installation of a new pro-Australian government in Honiara, Canberra did everything it could to facilitate the so-called deportation. 
    On December 17, ten days before Moti was forced out of the Solomons, Australia's senior diplomat in the country Peter Hooton told a colleague that he hoped "we can avoid making a fuss ... we all want him gone after all and it would be a shame to risk an early misunderstanding with the new government". 
    AFP liaison officer in Honiara, Peter Bond, played a particularly noteworthy role. He fast tracked travel visas into Australia that he issued to the Solomons police and immigration officials who accompanied Moti on the plane to Australia. 
    Australian officials also issued Moti with Australian travel documents, without his authorisation or consent. Bond attended numerous meetings held to discuss Moti's removal, which were attended by Solomons Island government members, immigration officials, and police. 
    On the morning of the deportation, Moti's counsel explained in the High Court submission, Bond "passed on to the Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Solomon Islands police force, Mr Peter Marshall, 'legal advice' to the effect that the planned deportation was lawful, when he knew full well that it was not". 
    Finally, according to a witness, Bond told a Solomons' immigration officer to "do it quickly because the plane would be waiting". He then ensured that AFP officers in Australia were waiting to arrest Moti as soon as his plane landed. Moti has asked the High Court to carefully scrutinise Bond's role in December 2007, as well as his testimony given to the Queensland Supreme Court. 
    The defence has highlighted the contradiction between Bond's statement in court that he was never interested in Moti's deportation, only his extradition, and an email he sent in October 2006. This warned another AFP officer that "the removal of Moti from the Solomon Islands to Australia via deportation is now in danger of not becoming an option", and stated that if Moti became attorney general, "the consequences will be disastrous for Australians, Australian interests, and RAMSI". 
    The defence submission declared: "The conclusion to draw from FA [Federal agent] Bond's evidence was that, where necessary, he was willing to lie rather than concede matters which may have put the prosecution of the appellant at risk." Moti's counsel concluded that the Australian government's complicity in Moti's unlawful removal from the Solomons went beyond acquiescence-though that itself would be enough to warrant the charges being thrown out-and was equivalent to "aiding and abetting". 
    On the issue of the so-called witness payments, the defence submission answered the Queensland Supreme Court of Appeal finding that they did not warrant a permanent stay of proceedings because they were not illegal and also because the cash was provided after the alleged victim and her family had given statements to the AFP. Moti's counsel noted that "it is far from clear that the witness payments were legal". Moreover, an abuse of judicial process under established legal precedent may be determined on the basis of gross impropriety without necessarily also involving illegality. 
    On the question of the timing of the payments, the defence submission stated: "It cannot be said that payments which induce initial co-operation are improper, while payments which secure ongoing co-operation, whatever the circumstances and whatever the price, are not... The right-thinking person would correctly perceive a link between the political genesis of the prosecution, the delay, the means by which the appellant was brought to the jurisdiction, and the extraordinary payments being made to keep the prosecution on foot." 
    Last March, just three days before he died, the alleged victim's father stated that the initial allegations made against Moti had been bogus, and apologised to the former attorney general.The father also accused AFP officers of intimidating his family into co-operating with the investigation, and of coaching their testimony. [WSWS article]