16 Jun 2005

Legal source says Fiji bill will cripple public prosecutions office

1:33 pm on 16 June 2005

A legal source has warned that the Fiji government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill will cripple the public prosecutions office.

The legal commentator, who wants to remain anonymous, says he believes that the government's junior coalition partner, the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party, is on a witch-hunt to marginalise the office.

Fiji's director of public prosecutors, Josaia Naigulevu, and the police raised concerns this week that the bill will seriously affect their constitutional powers and functions.

The two law enforcement agencies have made their views known to parliament's Justice, Law and Order committee, which is hearing submissions on the bill.

The source says the bill exposes the DPP to the risk of being charged for protecting his own independence because it could be argued that the office is obstructing the work of the Reconciliation and Amnesty Commission.

He says the CAMV appears to be upset at the number of its members being charged with coup-related offences.

He says he believes the aim of the current effort is to undermine the office to the extent that coup perpetrators in the future will get away unchallenged, uncharged and unpunished.