BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
Prime Minister’s nephew and chief of staff, Robson Djokovic, will appeal the High Court’s decision on his citizenship status.
Djokovic’s lawyer, Mr Wilson Rano, has come out with a statement confirming this.
Early last month, Justice Howard Lawry passed judgement that Djokovic, although being an indigenous Solomon Islander, is not a citizen.
This judgement was said to have rippling effects because Djokovic was also facing allegations that he had registered and voted in the 2019 national general elections.
Rano, confirming instructions from Djokovic to appeal, said the issue of his client’s citizenship status has received both political and legal commentaries.
“In most cases far beyond what the law is. We at Rano & Company, being the legal representatives of Mr Djokovic wish to clarify these misconceptions.
“Indeed, the High Court had made a decision declaring our Client Mr Djokovic not a citizen. The decision of the High Court is binding whether it is wrong or right. However, a person aggrieved can appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal, being the final appellate Court.
“In this case we have received instructions from Mr Djokovic to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Citizenship is a sensitive, as well, a national issue. The assertion which we have argued before the High Court and which we will advance further to the Court of Appeal is whether being an Indigenous Solomon Islander one cannot lose his or her Solomon Islands citizenship.
“It will be our argument, amongst other things, that the Constitution protects the citizenship of indigenous Solomon Islanders. This was clear in the constitutional conference our framers of the constitution held at Lancaster, London on 16 September 1977,” Rano said in his statement.
Rano said the High Court had held correctly that Djokovic is an indigenous Solomon Islander. As an indigenous Solomon Islander Djokovic is vested with the right to be in Solomon Islands without any restriction in terms of movement, employment and his right of association and assembly, which broadly includes political affiliation.
“The Firm understands Mr Djokovic is a target of numerous people and agencies which resulted in negative comments and personal attacks as to his person, character and cultural background. Some individuals have personal dislikes and issues against Mr Djokovic for reasons unrelated but have seen it fit to attack Mr Djokovic publicly.”
He said regarding the calls for criminal charges against Djokovic, the DPP is an independent institution and no government bodies or the Office of the Opposition have the right to influence its work.
“On this we are aware that the Secretary of the Opposition Office have met with the DPP to force the DPP to institute charges against Mr Djokovic.
“It is therefore obvious that the vehement calls to institute charges against Mr Djokovic are politically driven. The so-called ‘Legal Pundit’ also calls for the DPP to charge Mr Djokovic without considering other issues. Whilst any charge can be laid and a stay of prosecution can be sought, there is also the potential liability which the Government will be exposed to,” Rano said.
“Djokovic can and or may sue the Government for malicious prosecution if he wins. On the same any criminal trial will be affected if Mr Djokovic continues to be trialled by the media because any fair trial will become untenable.”
Rano also said DPP has been informed that an appeal will be lodged to the Court of Appeal.
“Whether they will charge Djokovic before the appeal is heard or after the appeal has been heard is a matter entirely for the DPP.”