4 Sep 2003

Fiji's CCF says indigenous rights protected in 1997 constitution

4:06 pm on 4 September 2003

The executive director of Fiji's Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the constitution has safeguards to protect indigenous peoples' rights, and a government senator need not fight for it.

This comes after Senator Asesela Ravuvu called for a review of the constitution in the Upper House, saying it amounted to cultural genocide.

The senator has also called for the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase not to follow the Supreme Court ruling to form a multi-party cabinet with Labour.

The Reverend Yabaki says the constitution is one of the best in the world, and chapter two already protects the group rights of indigenous people.

He says the Great Council of Chiefs already plays a key role.

"Nothing will change unless the leaders of the Fijian people for instance great council of chiefs nominees on the senate which make up I think 14 other senators but the 14 appointees, nominees, from the great council of chiefs have to agree to any change affecting Fijian rights before any implementation can be done. Far from what professor Ravuvu appears to be saying."

The Reverend Yabaki says abiding by the law is the best protection to understanding human rights.