Nadi Magistrates ruling flawed: AG

April 16, 2020 4:15 pm

Nadi Magistrate’s acquittal of two men who pleaded guilty to breaching curfew, has been labelled as erroneous and flawed.

Siromi Turaga dismissed charges against three people.

In one case against two accused, the magistrate ruled that the prosecution relied on a declaration by the Prime Minister and not the powers of the Minister for Health who is responsible for the Public Health Act 2020.

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The Magistrate stated that prosecution charged the two on non-existent law and that the charge is defective.

In another matter, Turaga stated that the Public Health Act vests no such power to the Prime Minister and any decision that emanates from his directive is unlawful.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has come out strongly against the ruling saying the Magistrate missed the substance of the matter and did not consider the Gazette when making the ruling.

He says to claim that these announcement by the Prime Minister dilutes the legal standing is baseless.

“The flawed decision by the Magistrate in Nadi, in no way jeopardizes the enforceability of the Fijian government’s health protection directives. These directives are saving lives, Fijians lives every day and those who violate these directives will continue to be arrested and prosecuted. Regardless of who announces these directives legal authorities rest with the Minister for Health and the PS for Health which nobody has usurped? Meanwhile, with the eyes of the nation the Prime Minister for decisive leadership any changes under the Public Health Act will be announced by him so that it reaches the widest possible audience and is given the utmost attention.”

Sayed-Khaiyum adds it is disturbing to note that the Magistrate failed to consider, let alone refer to these orders even though they were published eleven days before his ruling and the individuals were charged six days after the publication of the orders.

The Attorney General confirms the ruling will be appealed and relevant discussions are underway between the Fiji Police Force and the Director of Public Prosecutions Office.

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