December 7, 2016 10:04 am

Confusion over woman’s deportation for using the “F-word”

A woman was declared a prohibited immigrant for swearing at the President but conflicting reports have emerged over the circumstances surrounding her deportation. According to the Immigration Department, Karen Seaton was a United States citizen who carried a Fiji Residency Permit. Ms Seaton resided on Koro Island and was in Suva to make submissions to […]

A woman was declared a prohibited immigrant for swearing at the President but conflicting reports have emerged over the circumstances surrounding her deportation.

Karen Seaton appearing before a parliamentary committee last week.
Karen Seaton appearing before a parliamentary committee last week.

According to the Immigration Department, Karen Seaton was a United States citizen who carried a Fiji Residency Permit.

Ms Seaton resided on Koro Island and was in Suva to make submissions to a parliament committee.

In a statement, Immigration Director Mr Nemani Vuniwaqa said Ms Seaton was deported on Saturday after “she breached the terms of her residency permit”.

Ms Seaton was alleged to have yelled an obscenity at the President, Major-General Joji Konrote last Wednesday.

VUNIWAQA: “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.”

However, Ms Seaton told New Zealand media that she was a Canadian citizen who was told to stop giving testimony about changes to the Land Sales Act to the Justice Law and Order & Human Rights Committee.

Immigration Director Mr Vuniwaqa has since confirmed that Ms Seaton’s appearance before the committee “had no bearing on the circumstances of her deportation.”

SODELPA Party Leader Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka said the deportation was “shameful, undemocratic and must stop.”

RABUKA: “This shameful episode, the misuse of our laws, the hounding and silencing of critics must stop. The Attorney General who declared Ms Seaton a prohibited immigrant must explain his decision.”

Ms Seaton claimed police were summoned to eject her as she addressed the committee.  However, committee chair, MP Ashneel Sudhakar said  her claims were wrong and she was out of order in her presentation.

MP Sudhakar said although police officers were  present on the Parliament precincts as orderlies, Ms Seaton was not escorted by police and remained in the room.

Ms Seaton’s appearance before the committee was facilitated by former Opposition employees Mr Mick Beddoes and Mr Pita Waqavonono.

In an email to Mr Beddoes, Ms Seaton claimed she was taken from her hotel room in Suva by immigration officials and forced onboard a flight to Los Angeles on Saturday.

SEATON: “They broke into the room and at that point I made a formal request for an ambassador. It was denied. They forcibly twisted my arm to remove my phone from me and they forcibly took my purse from me to take my passports. At one point I asked why was I being deported and she said it’s from the highest authority in the nation,”

Ms Sutton was believed to be unhappy with the Land Sales Act passed in 2014 which required all non-resident land owners to have constructed a $250,000 house by the end of 2016 or pay a fine every six months.