14 Jul 2005

Call to review Fiji amnesty bill over crimes against women during coup

1:07 pm on 14 July 2005

The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has called on the government to review the amnesty provisions for coup perpetrators in its Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

In particular, the Centre is concerned about amnesty for crimes against women during the coup.

The NGO's deputy director, Edwina Kotoisuva, says many crimes of violence were committed against women during the coup, including the rape of women over 60.

Ms Kotoisuva has told Radio Fiji the Centre is also concerned about the restorative justice aspects of the Bill, which assumes that there is a balance of power between the two parties involved.

She has referred to communities such as Muaniveni, Baulevu and elsewhere in Fiji where residents were attacked and terrorised and forced to flee their homes during the coup.

Ms Kotoisuva is questioning whether these people will agree to reconciliation only out of fear or whether they will genuinely want to reconcile.

Ms Kotoisuva says they believe that retributive justice, which means punishment for a crime, while not ideal, is the best in this case.

This week the United States ambassador in Suva, David Lyon, publicly told the Qarase government to give careful consideration to the concerns raised by many civil society leaders around the country.