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Bulitavu questioned and released

July 12, 2019 4:55 pm
SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu [right] with lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo [middle] outside CID Headquarters in Toorak, Suva.

SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu was today questioned by Police in relation to his facebook post from two weeks ago.

A complaint was lodged against Bulitavu by the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj.

Bulitavu presented himself to the Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters in Suva this morning accompanied by his layer Filimoni Vosarogo.

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“The Police had earlier requested during the week if we could come today to come and answer questions in relation to Bulitavu’s social media comments. I think the allegations revolve around section 17 of the Public Order Act. That’s where the investigation is at the moment.”

Bulitavu is not usually one to shy away from the camera, but on this rare occasion, he chose to let his lawyer do the talking.

Vosarogo says his client has exercised his rights and they will wait to be contacted by Police again.

“I suppose, because it’s in relation to the Public Order Act, it would require the Director of Public Prosecution to look at the file. That’s probably what’s going to happen next. Look at the moment we’ve just done with the interview and he has exercised certain constitutional rights during the interview and so I think that’s probably what we’ll say for now.”

Human Rights Director Ashwin Raj lodged a complaint against Bulitavu regarding his Facebook post that has been labeled as misogynistic and to be inciting hatred.

Raj had earlier slammed Bulitavu for his comment saying he should be accountable for what he posted and recognize the damage it has caused the nation.

“It gets us thinking about the fact that there was a lot of intention in what he posted. That is why I think that it’s going to be very important that law enforcement agencies take this very seriously. I think the moral outcry at the moment is good, but at the same time I think the restitution your fundamental right be protected against hate speech through the force of law is what I’m interested in.”

When questioned by FBC News on the grounds of questioning with Police, Bulitavu’s Lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo clarified his client is still under caution from Police.

“The Police had earlier requested during the week if we could come today to come and answer questions in relation to Bulitavu’s social media comments. I think the allegations revolve around section 17 of the Public Order Act.
That’s where the investigation is at the moment.”

Vosarogo says since the matter is in relation to the Public Order Act, it would require the Director of Public Prosecution to look into the file.

Section 17 (1) of the Public Order Act on inciting racial antagonism provides that any person who by words, either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise-
(a) spreads any report or makes any statement which is likely to-
(i) incite racial dislike or hatred of any race or community;
(ii) promote feelings of enmity or ill will between different races or communities;
(iii) prejudice the public peace;
(iv) incite or promote religious, ethnic or communal hatred or dislike;
(b) makes any intimidating or threatening statement in relation to a race or community other than his own which is likely to arouse fear, alarm or a sense of insecurity amongst members of that other race or community; shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to a fine not exceeding $50,000 dollars or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Furthermore, section 65 (2) of the Crimes Act provides that a person commits an indictable offence (which is triable summarily) if the person by any communication whatsoever including electronic communication, or by signs or by visible representation intended by the person be read or heard-

(a) makes any statement or spreads any report which is likely to-
(i) incite dislike or hatred or antagonism of any community; or
(ii) promote feelings of enmity or ill-will between different communities, religious groups or classes of the community; or
(iii) otherwise prejudices the public peace by creating feelings of communal antagonism; or
(b) makes any intimidating or threatening statement in relation to a community or religious group other than the person’s own which is likely to arouse fear, alarm, or insecurity amongst members of that community or religious group.

Penalty- Imprisonment for 10 years.

Vosarogo says they will continue to liaise with Police on the matter.

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