Friday, 2 May 2008 4:00 AM

Fiji High Court Issues Stop Order for Deportation

Fiji's High Court has issued an order stopping the deportation of Fiji Times Publisher.

As reported by Fijilive, 'Fiji Times lawyer Jon Apted told fijilive that he had made an urgent application challenging the deportation with the Fiji High Court yesterday evening'.

'At around mid-night, Apted informed fijilive that Justice Filimone Jitoko has ordered that Hannah be produced in the Suva court by the authorities at 3pm today'. 'Apted said that copies of the court order have been faxed to various people'.

In February, when Fiji Sun publisher, Russell Hunter, was deported, a similar order had been issued by the High Court but all relevant authorities claimed they never received it, including the Defence Minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, who authorized the deportation. Since then, what happened to the stop order still remains a mystery. It raised the other question of whether the rule of law was still in place in Fiji or whether the rule of law was whatever suited the interim government.

According to Fijilive, 'Apted said they are aware that a similar incident may occur again this time and have taken the necessary action'.

"We have sent copies of the order to the Immigration officers and policeman who took Hannah. We have also made copies to the Commissioner of Police Esala Teleni, the Director Immigration Viliame Naupoto and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence and Immigration Malakai Tadulala".

"Copies have also been sent to all Immigration officers, police officers and Ministry of Defence officials involved. Air Pacific and Air Terminal Services (ATS), who check-in departing passengers, have also been notified," he said.

Whatever the outcome, interested observers will soon know if the rule of law under the constitution is still alive in Fiji or whether this High Court order will become another unsolved mystery.