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Progressing Fiji and the Law
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 21 January 2008

The recent 9th annual Attorney General’s Conference held at the Fijian Resort from 30 November to 1st December 2007 attracted speakers from abroad and in Fiji to discuss topics of importance in progressing Fiji and the law. The session on “Sea, Boats and the Law” was well received by the audience as it discussed the application of the Admiralty jurisdiction in Fiji especially in terms of arresting vessels. Justice Davendra Pathik gave an illustration of how the law under High Court rules was applied with a number of examples. He also mentioned several marine enquiries under Marine Act 1986 which subsequently led to amendments to the Act by way of regulations and what were lessons learnt there from. He also mentioned the laxity of maritime regulators in enforcing the law which resulted to vessels allowed to sail unseaworthy and later sunk. The case of MV Ovalau II in 2003 which sank in north Viti Levu was the incident in point.

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Commodore Viliame Naupoto, Director of Immigration then discussed various transboundary crimes involved the use of vessels such as people trafficking, refugees, drugs and maritime terrorism. He raised questions whether Fiji and its laws can handle situations such as the Tampa incident in Australia. He urged that Fiji and other Pacific Island countries should seriously consider all interests pertaining to the sea because they are all maritime states. 

Mr Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga gave a presentation illustrating how SPC/RMP is assisting the maritime sector in the region in terms of implementing IMO Conventions especially in terms of legislations under PIMLAR.

The session on “Sea, Boats and the Law” was well received and it is recognised that Fiji needs to accede to number of important IMO Conventions such as MARPOL 73/78 and subsequent amendments, SUA Convention 1988 and its 2005 Protocol. It was also recognised that a maritime policy is needed as a basis for robust marine legislations

The Conference was a success overall as it highlighted the need to review laws and draft new ones in order to keep up with changes especially with IMO Conventions.

 
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