29 May 2003

Fiji groups condemn penalty proposal for sex crimes

6:28 am on 29 May 2003

Fiji women's organisations, NGO's and lawyers have condemned a proposal by a government senator that sex offenders to be stoned to death or castrated.

Senator Apisai Tora, a longtime convert to Islam, made the call in the Upper House saying his religion had the most effective deterrents to sexual offences.

He said these were stoning to death for the most serious offences such as paedophilia and incest, and castration for other offences such as rape and defilement followed by a lifetime banishment to some remote atoll.

But critics say that stoning and castration are archaic and would not deter sex offenders.

Lawyers say Senator Tora's proposals are inhumane and a breach of human rights.

The coordinator of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali, says while men need to be penalised an counselled for offences, taking their lives would infringe their human rights.

The director of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement, Virisila Buadromo, has expressed similar sentiments.

The executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says such harsh penalties as proposed by Senator Tora are uncalled for.

The Reverend Yabaki says those who respect law and order should use their common sense and mete out sentences appropriate for the crime.