Fiji Trial of Imrana Jalal and Her Husband

June 5, 2010

Glenn Ferguson
Law Council of Australia
19 Torrens Street
Braddon ACT 2612

Dear Glenn,

Trial of Imrana Jalal and her husband in Fiji

I have been, for my sins, recently elected President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR). In that position, I have been forwarded a statement from Imrana Jalal requesting that international human rights observers attend the trial of her and her husband on what are, essentially, local government health regulation breaches brought by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Ms. Jalal writes in her most recent statement:

?As you know, on 1 January 2010 I was served by Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) officers with seven charges alleging breaches of the law related to Suva City Council civil misdemeanours. The same charges have been filed against my husband, Sakiusa Tuisolia.

Such prosecutions are normally commenced by the Central Board of Health or the Suva City Council. The maximum fine prescribed is FJD20 (approx USD10). Penal Code charges allege a failure to obey a lawful order (to close the restaurant by the Suva City Council inspector). No lawful (nor indeed unlawful) order has been issued against myself or the business. FICAC is arguing that a notice from the Suva City Council Health Inspector is of the same standing as a lawful court order. For the Penal Code offence, my husband and I can be sentenced to imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years.

My husband and I face the possibility of imprisonment, for what is essentially a civil misdemeanour.
I categorically deny these charges and will mount a robust defence against them. The trial has been set for 28-30 June 2010.?

You will, no doubt, be aware of the deteriorating rule of law situation in Fiji with increasing inroads upon the judiciary and prosecution authorities. I have attached with this letter a recent report from the respected NGO, Citizens Constitutional Focus, which provides an update on that situation and makes specific reference to the prosecution of Ms. Jalal.

You will note, from the attached statement from Ms. Jalal that she is requesting observers attend the trials of her and her husband and that they are set down at the end of this month.

ALHR is a totally volunteer organisation and we do not have any resources that would allow us to comply with Ms. Jalal?s request. The purpose of this letter is to inquire whether the Law Council would be in a position to consider Ms. Jalal?s request and, possibly, to arrange some kind of independent observer presence at the trials.

Otherwise, I send my best wishes and urge you to continue the excellent job you are doing as President of the Law Council.

Best regards,

Stephen Keim
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
Mobile: 0433 846 518