18 May 2005

Fiji opposition MPs contest Qarase reconciliation bill

9:33 am on 18 May 2005

Opposition MPs in Fiji are planning a legal challenge to stop the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill from being tabled in parliament and becoming law.

The challenge is spearheaded by the deputy opposition leader, Poseci Bune; the former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes; and the New Labour Unity Party MP, Ofa Duncan.

They have been joined by the Fiji Trade Union Congress president and Labour MP, Daniel Urai.

The government Bill will set up a commission with powers to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and suspend court proceedings against those facing charges.

Mr Beddoes says they will seek a judicial review of the Bill, in particular its provisions which will allow interference with the independence of the judiciary.

They have also lodged an official complaint with the Fiji Human Rights Commission to investigate the Bill, and determine whether it contravenes the rights of citizens under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.