6 May 2003

Fiji robbery sentences to be increased

7:31 am on 6 May 2003

The Fiji government wants to impose a maximum of life imprisonment for robbery with violence, rape and incest with a girl under the age of 13.

These are some of the tough new measures which are part of a bill to amend the Penal Code tabled in parliament.

The measures, which include sharply increased sentences for robbery with violence and a range of sexual offences, are aimed at cracking down on the alarming rate of such crimes.

The attorney general, Qoroniasi Bale, has admitted in parliament that the government is embarrassed by the incidence of these crimes which have been attracting increasing concern and have enraged the business sector and foreign investors.

Mr Bale says it cannot be denied that there has been an undesirable increase in these offences and the government is determined to take action.

The tough new penalties are proposed as a front-page newspaper story reports today that a 14-year-old girl is pregnant with her father's child.