Shaista Shameem (centre) at the UN Expert Commission with members Bhagwati from India (left) and Yokota from Japan (right). [Reuters]

AUDIO from Pacific Beat

Fiji’s new decree unprecedented: lawyer

Created: Fri, 02 Dec 2011 21:55:03 GMT+1300

Last Updated: Fri, 2 Dec 2011 17:21:00 +1100

A Fijian lawyer has condemned a new decree that will give the Government power to end court challenges over superannuation cuts.

The Fiji National Provident Fund Transition Decree sets out new, complex schedules for pension cuts that the government says are necessary because the superannuation fund has lost money.

But lawyer, Shaista Shameem told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the decree goes against the basic principles of international law.

The proposed cuts have prompted legal action by Ms Shameem’s client, 75-year-old retiree David Burness, who is facing a 64 per cent reduction in his monthly income.

Ms Shameem says the government’s decree is unnecessarily heavy-handed, and was issued so Mr Burness would lose his case.

“It would have meant a serious loss of face, not only for the Fiji National Provident Fund Transition but also the attorney general, the drafters and the Government on a whole,” she said.

“All case law internationally shows that pensions are a human right and cannot be removed by the government. 

“Under the circumstances, had we had been allowed to proceed through the court system, we would have won this case.”