24 Jan 2005

Fiji's Attorney General says he initiated moves to limit own powers

1:56 pm on 24 January 2005

Fiji's attorney general and minister for justice, Qoriniasi Bale, is denying that plans to remove his powers to release prisoners follows severe criticism of his actions.

Mr Bale - whose early release of the former Vice President, Ratu Jope Seniloli, has caused bitter debate - says he approached cabinet a year ago over concerns that he had too much authority.

Mr Bale says cabinet approved changes to the Prisons Act to provide for the setting up of a Parole Board, well before he released Seniloli.

"We have a new Prisons and Corrections Bill already approved by cabinet and I expect to take it to cabinet later this year after consultation with the relevant stakeholders."

Mr Bale says the Parole Board will handle applications from prisoners for early release and the new law is expected to go before parliament in June.