Saneem questions legality of immigration watch list

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Former supervisor of elections Mohammed Saneem. Picture: FT FILE

Former supervisor of elections Mohammed Saneem has questioned the legality of his name being placed on the immigration watch list in the absence of an official Stop Departure Order.

He was prevented from travelling to Australia while attempting to board a flight at the Nadi International Airport on Friday morning.

In a statement, Mr Saneem claimed he was not aware of any investigation involving him, which would warrant his name being present on the watch list.

“I was told by the Immigration staff that the order was from the Attorney-General’s office,” Mr Saneem said.

“I was not aware of any live investigations against me nor any other matter which would warrant my name being present on the watch list since the time of my constructive resignation as Supervisor of Elections.

“I question the legality and the presence of my name on the watch list in the absence of a stop departure order.

“The Immigration staff returned to say that she was following a directive from the Attorney-General and Commissioner FICAC (Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption) as there was a pending investigation against me.

“I requested her to confirm again, and she responded with, ‘yes sir, FICAC’. That was the first time I found out about this investigation.”

He also claimed that Attorney-General Siromi Turaga, without lawful authority, issued the directive to keep him from travelling.

“From what I have been told by the Immigration officials and the police at the airport this morning, I am led to believe that the Attorney-General, without lawful authority, has issued this directive to keep me from travelling.

“I do not understand why he provided confirmation to FijiVillage of the events that transpired at the airport and why he needed to play a role in any of this.

“Based on what has happened this morning (Friday), I believe that there exists a severe defiance in the rule of law and infringement of liberties and freedoms guaranteed under the Fijian Constitution.

“It also goes to show that anybody’s freedom of movement may be unduly restricted by the Attorney-General or any other person who does not have the legal authority to do so.

“The Attorney-General has acted contrary to the law. He has acted without any legal authority.”

Mr Saneem claimed that he was served with the Stop Departure Order at 2.40pm on Friday.

“I was served with the Stop Departure Order at 2.40pm this afternoon (Friday) by FICAC, which has the legal authority to do.”

Attorney-General Siromi Turaga was unable to comment on the issue yesterday.

“He is a constitutional office holder so until we complete that process, then we can give the release,” Mr Turaga said.

“I know people are interested, but I am unable to divulge any matter.”

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