Fiji deports US citizen for ‘swearing at president’, claims government

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Fiji President Jioji Konrote ... target of an "obscenity", according to The Fiji Times. Image: Fiji govt

By Talebula Kate in Suva

A United States national has been deported after swearing at the President of Fiji, Jioji Konrote, last week, it was reported today.

Director of Immigration Nemani Vuniwaqa confirmed this in a government statement saying Karen Seaton, a citizen of the United States, was deported from Fiji after she breached the terms of her residency permit by yelling an obscenity at the President on November 30, 2016.

“This unprovoked use of the ‘f word’ directed towards Fiji’s Head of State cannot be tolerated and Karen Seaton was subsequently detained and escorted onto a plane bound for the US,” Vuniwaqa said.

“Karen Seaton’s appearance before a parliamentary committee had no bearing whatsoever on the circumstances of her deportation,” he said.

Talebula Kate is a Fiji Times reporter.

Asia Pacific Report editor: Correspondents have since challenged The Fiji Times and Fiji government version of this deportation, blaming the incident on the “heinous Land Sales Act” and a “clearly provoked” outcry.

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“The heinous Land Sales Act unjustly criminalises foreign-property owners retrospectively, forcing foreigners to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in building homes on properties (on outer islands without the infrastructure to accommodate building) purchased prior to the laws enactment,” writes Gene Catrambone.

“Ms Seaton’s anger was directed at the Act and any reasonable witness would attest to her legitimate right to protest the law’s unfairness.”

The correspondents also criticised the role of the “censored” media.

Read their comments below.

Seaton herself has also rejected the “slanderous, unsubstantiated allegations” in an email to Asia Pacific Report.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s get the story straight here folks. I am a resident of Fiji, know Ms. Seaton personally and am well aware of the circumstances surrounding her deportation. Ms. Seaton did not yell obscenities at the President of Fiji. That is a complete fabrication. The only profane conduct in this scenario would be the behavior of Fiji government officials. For the past 2 years, Ms. Seaton has been advocating on behalf of non-citizen landowners in Fiji who will be severely punished by a piece of retrospective legislation passed in December, 2014 – Act 16 of The Land Sales Act. It is because of her consistent, strenuous advocacy and her challenging of Fiji’s elected leaders to uphold their constitutional obligations that Ms. Seaton was deported. She never directed profanity at the president or any other Fiji official. During her testimony before the parliamentary committee, Ms. Seaton did, however, openly confront government officials for their human rights violations and abdication of the Fiji Bill of Rights without the use of profanity.

  2. This outcry was clearly provoked. The heinous Land Sales Act unjustly criminalizes foreign-property owners retrospectively, forcing foreigners to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in building homes on properties (on outer islands without the infrastructure to accommodate building) purchased prior to the laws enactment . Ms Seaton’s anger was directed at the Act and any reasonable witness would attest to her legitimate right to protest the law’s unfairness. In a truly democratic country her deportation would have been avoided. Fiji is clearly a false democracy as it censors its media and abrogates the rights of its citizens and legal land owners in a spirit that promotes deception and tyranny. The citizens of Fiji only deserve the fruits of democracy if they have the courage to uphold and defend its principles. Apparently, that is not the case and what happened to Ms. Seaton is only a harbinger of what is to come.

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