Friday, September 28, 2007

FICAC to bypass DPP

FICAC was given another set of extraordinary powers yesterday when Cabinet amended the Criminal Procedure Code to allow FICAC to completely bypass the DPP's office in appointing lawyers to prosecute cases.

The High Court had previously knocked back an earlier attempt by FICAC to prosecute its own cases because only the Director of Public Prosecutions could prosecute criminal charges.

With the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, for the first time in Fijis history, the litigation of cases on court on behalf of the state is no longer the sole responsibility of the DPP.

The change has elevated FICAC from an organisation that was established to "investigate" corruption cases to one that will now have the powers to prosecute.

This development is of great concern as we now see FICAC gradually, and by stealth it seems, gain greater powers and move beyond the objectives for which it initially set up,

Like most Fijians, we here at Loyal Fijian supported efforts to target corruption and bring those guilty of corrupt practices to justice.

But it now increasingly appears that FICAC  is going to play both judge and jury and that is a major concern. The concentration of such widespread powers in one organisation does not augur well for a democratic society especially as FICAC is answerable to politicians and not the people of Fiji.

This move by Cabinet to amend the Criminal Procedure Code is also a blatant attempt by Cabinet to overturn the decision of the High Court.

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