17 May 2005

Concerns a proposed bill in Fiji could lead to "legal" human rights violations

5:53 pm on 17 May 2005

The director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission says she is concerned the proposed Reconciliation and Unity bill could allow human rights violations.

The bill would set up a commission to grant amnesty to people commit political acts as opposed to criminal acts.

Amnesty could be provided for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records and give immunity to those not yet prosecuted.

Dr Shaista Shameem says the it would be hard to differentiate between the two.

She says human rights violations could legally occur as people could claim to have been politically motivated.

"That certainly does not follow international human rights principles. In fact it doesn't even follow our own constitutional principles, so unless they are making an exception to the events of 2000, it certainly doesn't follow any international human rights principles that I know of. All human rights violations are considered to be criminal activity."

However Dr Shameem says she is hopeful consultations will occur with the government which may lead to some changes in the bill.