Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fijian Land Under Threat

Native land under threat: GCC lawyers 25-May-2007

THE lawyers representing the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), Kitione Vuataki, and Savenaca Komaisavai, have alleged that there are moves to amend entrenched legislations affecting the ownership lands in Fiji.

The two yesterday said that prominent Ba lawyer, Doctor Shamsud Dean Sahu Khan, presented a paper to the Fiji Law Society two weeks ago calling for a special committee to be formed to thoroughly examine the legislation affecting lands in Fiji.

Vuataki said that with the council suspended by the interim regime “the detriment faced now by Fijians is that the current situation is a parallel analogy of the time of Governor Everard Ferdinand imthurn, who suspend the GCC for six years from 1904 to 1911.”

“The law that time was for him to call the GCC which he did not do for six years in which he amended the Native Lands Act from which the Fijian people lost 200 thousand acres of land,” Vuataki said.

“Right now there is a paper being circulated in the Fiji Law Society that the lands Fijians are entitled to are those lands their villages and their plantation are located while the rest of the land should go to the State.”

Vuataki said that calls for the amendment of the Native Land Act were coming at a time when the GCC is not present to defend the rights of the Fijian people. Efforts to get comments from Dr Shamsud Dean Sahu Khan proved futile yesterday.

“We are going to court because we don’t want to lose any more land like the 200 thousand acres with the suspension of the GCC,” Ratu Kitione said.

Meanwhile, two more chiefs have joined as plaintiffs in challenging the suspension of the council.

Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and Ratu Ratavo Lalabalavu have joined with the lawyers acting for the chiefs citing Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama as a defendant in their amended motion.

The lawyers filed their amended legal papers in court yesterday with the hearing to be held on June 29.

The two lawyers are representing suspended GCC chairman, Tui Tavua, Ratu Ovini Bokini, and Nadroga paramount chief, Na Kalevu Ratu Sakiusa Makutu, who are seeking an injunction to stop the Interim Fijian Affairs Minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, from reviewing the GCC membership following the suspension of the august body.


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