19 Nov 2004

Fiji government MP pushes for pardon for all political prisoners

8:44 am on 19 November 2004

A Fiji government MP has called for a pardon for all convicted political prisoners as well as those facing charges for the 2000 coup and mutinies.

The Fiji Sun says Ratu Peniasi Silatolu has told the Lower House that a certificate of pardon should have been issued as a follow-up the to the government organised forgiveness and reconciliation ceremony last month.

He said the pardon should have included all political prisoners such as the vice president and the deputy speaker of parliament.

Ratu Peniasi said it includes senators, and MPs who have coup-related cases pending against them, as well as soldiers of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit.

Ratu Peniasi claimed this was in accordance with the privileges and immunities in the Constitution which cover all MPs, the president and the vice president for their terms of office.

He claimed that the laws of Fiji provide that no MP, president or vice president or any other officer of parliament shall be subjected to the jurisdiction of any court.

Ratu Peniasi says the state should therefore cease all proceedings against all MPs, the deputy speaker, the vice president and senators.

Senators appointed by the government and the Great Council of Chiefs have regularly made similar calls for all coup related charges to be dropped and those already convicted to be freed.