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Newspaper Rejects Gates' Ruling

Issue No: 379 15 January 2001

The oldest newspaper in Fiji, the Fiji Times, has rejected Justice Gates' ruling.

In its editorial today, the newspaper states that peace comes first and justice later. This was in reference to the fact that numerous military issued weapons are still in the hands of "unknown persons, most likely with rebel sympathisers". The editorial stated: "Should the Appeals Court uphold Justice Gates' ruling these elements will have the opportunity and the means to create a situation of unrest. This is what the army fears."

The paper went on to write:

"Where, then, does that leave the system of justice as the country has known it for decades? Circumstances dictate that it must become a tool with which an unelected administration with the full backing of the military can retain control over the population. Such a situation is unacceptable to anyone who lives by the principle of democracy. There are, however, irrational times. Rational arguments will not solve the predicament the nation faces. The only way to return to law, order, justice and democracy is to first solve the problems - actual or perceived - that have plagued all communities for too long. Only then will people think and behave rationally. And only then will Justice Gates ruling be upheld".

That a very small but violent band of terrorists who still have military weapons to threaten civil disorder in the country manage to get support from the Fiji Times for their aim of maintaining an unelected group in power, is baffling. It is further astonishing that the Fiji Times claims that the powerful and internationally recognised military is fearful of the likely activities of the small group which still is holding on to the weapons.

END 15 January 2001


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