3 Jun 2005

Fiji military and police chiefs meet minister over draft amnesty law

7:09 am on 3 June 2005

Fiji's military commander and police commissioner have met the minister for home affairs to express their concerns about the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Commodore Bainimarama and Andrew Hughes are reported to have told Josefa Vosanibola of their fears about the effect of the Bill on the national security and stability of Fiji.

Radio Fiji says in particular they are understood to have briefed the minister on potential destabilising elements who could use the Bill to further their cause.

Commodore Bainimarama said both he and Mr Hughes had given their analysis of the Bill to the minister but

declined to elaborate.

Commodore Bainimarama said the military has made its stance known and they wouldn't make any further submissions to parliament's Sector Committee on Justice, Law and Order when it seeks public submissions on the Bill.

The Bill will fast track amnesty for what the government calls politically motivated crimes by coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and can ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.

The military said earlier it didn't agree with the Bill, in particular its amnesty provisions to free coup and mutiny convicts currently serving jail sentences.

Army and navy officers were present in parliament yesterday to show their opposition.