26 Apr 2005

NGOs see themselves as part of panel deciding fate of Fiji prisoners

3:55 pm on 26 April 2005

Three major NGOs in Fiji have urged the government to speed up the implementation of laws taking away individual discretion over the release of prisoners.

The organisations' joint statement also says a parole board would stop the scenario, in which a single prison official can decide whether to release a coup convict on a Compulsory Supervision Order.

The director of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy, Aisake Casimira, is one of the people behind the statement.

Mr Casimira sees a role for civil society organisations such as his own, in any future parole board.

"Appointments to the parole board should come from government, really, and they should be the ones appointing people from civil society, from the religions. The parole board members should be representatives of the different sectors in our society."

Laws to remove individual discretion are expected to go before parliament later this year, but NGOs say changing the law is now a matter of urgency.