The Supervisor of Elections has referred the FijiFirst candidate, Mr. Alexander O’Connor to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption [‘FICAC’] for probable breach of Section 113(3), (4) and 141 of the Electoral Act 2014.
“A Medical Officer had complained to the Electoral Commission after being requested by Mr. O’Connor to assist in the distribution of his campaign materials” explained Mr. Saneem, Supervisor of Elections.
“The FEO reminds all political parties and their representatives to ensure that they comply with all relevant laws in place when undertaking campaign for the 2022 General Election,” said Mr. Saneem.
Compliant by Mick Beddoes Dismissed
The Supervisor of Elections [‘SoE’] has dismissed the complaint by Mick Beddoes against the FijiFirst Leader and General Secretary.
In dismissing the complaint, the SoE found that:
Mr. Beddoes is incorrect in his assertions in relation to the statements uttered by Mr. Bainimarama during the FijiFirst campaign rally in Nausori. Having reviewed the statements, it noted that Mr. Bainimarama was in fact providing his opinion on the aftermath of any person attempting to enter into property that is currently classified as Freehold. FijiFirst, in its letter has offered further explanations (which are legally valid) supporting the opinion offered by its leader.
Mr. Beddoes did not provide any evidence in his complain that the utterances by the FijiFirst leader urged the commission or intended that the offence incited be committed. Infact, it appears that Mr. Beddoes has been victim of opinion of others published in some media instead. Further to this, it is impossible to find that Mr Bainimarama intended, insinuated or invited any person to commit or omit taking such action from the allegations and evidence contained in the complaint.
The FEO also notes that the legal test for inflammatory speeches requires that;
- The speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” AND
- The speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
(Brandenburg v Ohio 395 US 444 (1969))
The complaint from Mr. Beddoes does not provide any evidence that either of the above tests are proven. The complainants must ensure that they support their complaints with comprehensive list of evidence to ensure that the FEO is able to deal with it adequately. In this case, the FEO did not receive any response from Mr. Beddoes to the Response from FijiFirst.
We find that the analysis by Mr Bainimarama in his capacity as the leader of the FijiFirst during the campaign period of the outcome of some of the other parties’ campaign promises does not tantamount to inciting or threatening a person for the purposes of the discussion that happened during the campaign rally. The statement merely amounts to the opinion of Mr Bainimarama on the possibilities, if such policies are introduced by a political party in this general election. Therefore, the allegation against Mr Bainimarama is dismissed as there was no breach of section 116(3)(c) of the Electoral Act.
The FEO also notes that the complaints against Mr Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum contains factual inaccuracies and is mischievous. It is noted that Mr Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum acted in his capacity as the Minister responsible for Communications while launching Free Wi-Fi and digital TV at Lautoka market and that this is a budgeted initiative. It appears to be an attempt to restrain ministers from discharging their legal functions under the guise of campaign law breach.
The FEO has already, in previous matters outlined that the law does not prohibit any person from continuing their functions in their official capacity and therefore, this complaint is dismissed accordingly.
People’s Alliance Issued with Notice to Remove Facebook Posts on Election Misinformation
The FEO has received a complaint from Mr. Jerry Kalo highlighting to the FEO a recent video publication made by The People’s Alliance [“PA”] in which a person named Ratu Vuniani Navuniuci is purporting to be the Tui Nadi and the video attempts to portray him publishing some information in the capacity of being Tui Nadi.
This video forms part of the campaign of the PA and purports to make statements in support of the PA with intent to influence the outcome of the 2022 General Election.
The FEO notes that the statement made by Ratu Vuniani Navuniuci in his purported capacity is an attempt to influence the outcome of the election in relation to some campaign issues that are current in the campaign.
The FEO has been notified of a Court Order dated 13th September 2019 in which the Court has said in paragraph;
 By way of relief, the applicant seeks an order of certiorari to remove the impugned decisions of the first and the second respondents on the ground of illegality among other grounds. I am of the view that it would be appropriate that there should be a stay of the proceedings. I accordingly, acting under R3 (8)(a), direct the granting of leave must operate as a stay of the proceedings to which the application relates until determination of the application for judicial review.
The FEO also has received a letter written by FA & Company to the PA dated 2nd August 2022, wherein the legal practice has succinctly clarified that the Tui Nadi title has not yet been decided and is a matter before court and therefore it is improper for Ratu Vuniani Navuniuci to continue to use the Tui Nadi title and make videos that are published by the PA.
The FEO notes that this video has been shared widely and as such under section 144A (2) of the Electoral Act 2014, the FEO has given the People’s Alliance notice to;
- Correct the title of the video and,
- Clarify the exact legal position of Ratu Vuniani Navuniuci which must comply with the court order made by the court OR;
- Remove the video and immediately issue a correction highlighting that the video was made improperly by the person who was not holding the title of Tui Nadi
Notice Issued to Ferrel Khan to Remove Statement or Information Published on his Facebook Page
The information contained in the post below is incorrect. The FEO facilitated all eligible voters inside the corrections facility to apply postal vote in order for them to be able to vote in the 2022 General Election. This is a fundamental right for every person who is entitled to vote under the Constitution.