The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) refers to the Fiji Law Society’s (FLS) letter to the Government of Fiji dated 9 February 2021 on Bills No. 1 and 2 of 2021 tabled in Parliament.
In that letter, making reference to the proposed anti-corruption division of the judiciary, FLS states “corruption is not so complex – or so widespread”.
This statement by FLS is misconceived and delusional.
To allude that corruption is not widespread is a barren opinion, which obviously neglects the ground reality of the seriousness of corruption that the country is fighting.
Corruption is polycentric and multifaceted. It is the gateway for the occurrences of many other serious crimes including illegal drug importation, tax and customs breaches, fraud and serious financial crimes, money laundering, human trafficking, terrorism and terrorist financing.
The impact of corruption to the economy and society at large is irreversibly detrimental.
Corruption cases can also become complex and often require lengthy and
cumbersome processes to bring the culprits before the Court of Law.
Realization of this important factor has made several countries to change their traditional response to fight economic crimes including fraud and corruption.
The introduction of the Serious Fraud Office and the National Economic Crime Centre is the United Kingdom’s response to white-collar crimes and corruption.
Likewise, in the United States the National Institute on Economic Crime is responsible for providing specialized training and advice to the relevant law enforcement agencies.
In Fiji, there have been and are many complex corruption cases before the courts to which the Fiji Law Society seems oblivious to.
The notion that a specialized division undermines the diversity of opinions in the judiciary is another misconception.
This is not an alien feature to Fiji or any other common law jurisdictions. Family Division of the High Court and Family Division of the Magistrates Court, Court of Review and Tax Court under Customs Act and Tax
Administration Act respectively, and Employment Relations Court are examples of having separate specialized divisions within the Fijian judiciary.