Collective punishment

Tim Howick-Smith, Lami | Tuesday, June 13, 2017
An article entitled "Four-year suspension" in The Fiji Times of June 8, 2017 made reference to the fact that some villages from 19 districts in Fiji have been suspended from participating in the seasonal workers program in New Zealand for four years effective immediately with the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate citing various issues of misconduct and disorderly behaviour as the reason for the suspension.

Is this not "collective punishment"?

I believe collective punishment is essentially a form of punishment or retaliation whereby a suspected perpetrator's family members, friends, acquaintances, sect, neighbours or entire ethnic group is targeted. Over the centuries it has often been used during war time although I believe it is condemned under International Humanitarian Law and the prohibition of collective punishments is stated in the Hague Regulations and the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.

If the use of collective punishment is condemned even during war how can its use be condoned during times of peace? The use of collective punishment is both morally and legally questionable as indeed is its likely effectiveness.

How can the whole villages be punished for the alleged misconduct and disorderly behaviour of some of its members particularly when they are living and working in another country?

Rather than suspending a whole village from participating in the seasonal work program in New Zealand for a period of four years, would it not be fairer to prevent the individual villagers, identified for alleged misconduct and disorderly behaviour, from ever participating in the program again but to allow their fellow villagers to do so?

I trust that during the selection and recruitment process by the Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations of those participating in this program, they are adequately briefed regarding their individual responsibility to behave in a manner that does not offend the host nation nor bring disrepute to Fiji.

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