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Friday, September 22, 2006

Solomon generations in Fiji await court judgement over land in December

By Jyoti Pratibha

Solomon Islands generation in Fiji from indegenous islanders who came to work in the sugar plantations in the past are currently fighting for their right in the Fiji court to live on the land they acquired from their ancestors. However, they will have to wait until December before a court judgement can be made.

High Court Judge Justice Roger Coventry adjourned the matter till December 15, when he will hand down his ruling to the Solomon Islanders and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission Director, Doctor Shaista Shameem and legal representative of the 28 families, Anand Singh, yesterday concluded their submissions and arguments in court.

The legal counsel for the church and its parent company, the Australasian Conference Association Limited, Ian Roche also finished his arguments.

Mr Roche’s main argument was that the church was the legal owners of the land at the Tamavua-i-wai village, commonly known as the Solomon Islands' Wailoku Settlement, and that the church now needed the land for development purposes.

Speaking outside court, Mr Roche said the church had acquired the land legally and they needed it back for church use, adding that the Solomon community are not the holders of the possesory title of the land.

The lawyer for the complainants, Mr Singh said they were now awaiting the court’s decision.

The Solomon Islands families will remain at the said land till the judgment is passed by Justice Coventry.

Dr Shameem said they were representing the islanders because they had complained of their rights being violated to the commission earlier this year. “They came complaining about the eviction, but by then, the case was already being heard in Court, so we are now representing them,” Dr Shameem said.

Mr Singh had earlier commented that his clients will abide by the decision of the court and if they are ordered to move, they will do so. However, it is not clear where they are going to move if ordered by the court to vacate the said land that they have regarded as home for many years.

Source: Fiji Daily Post

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