PRESS RELEASE February 15 2012 

David Burness and other pensioners who are taking the Fiji National Provident Fund and the Attorney General to court over FNPF’s proposed pension cuts are fully supporting the petition to the Prime Minister to review government’s decision to slash FNPF pensions on March 1st 2012.

Lawyer for David Burness and Others in the court action, Dr Shaista Shameem said that her clients were supporting the petition to the Prime Minister because their hearing date of 8th February had been cancelled by the Court and no new dates had been set for the case to be heard.

She said her clients were disappointed with the High Court for not informing them or their lawyer about a new date for the hearing.  She said it was crucial that the case was heard before the new Decree slashing her clients’ pensions came into effect.

Daily telephone calls to the High Court Registry on the proposed date for the hearing were answered with a mere ‘we will let you know’ which is not satisfactory, Dr Shameem said. Her clients had a right to be heard without delay, especially when the February 8th hearing date had been cancelled without explanation other than information given informally that the judge dealing with the case, Justice P. Hettiaracchi,  had not yet returned from his leave.

Apparently Justice Hettiaracchi returned to Fiji last weekend but no further communication was available from the court on the status of Burness and Others’ applications for human rights redress. David Burness has now been joined by 13 other applicants to claim a rights violation in relation to their pension cuts.

Dates for filing of documents by Burness, FNPF and the Attorney General were set by the court in October 2011. However, neither the FNPF nor the AG met the deadline given by the court for filing their documents. No documents have yet been filed by the AG.

Dr Shameem said that the entire court process for the Burness case was both confusing and detrimental to her clients who had been praying for justice from the court.

Her clients were disappointed with such silence from the court system.