13 Jul 2012

Fiji regime urged to remove barriers to free speech

12:22 pm on 13 July 2012

The head of Fiji's Citizen Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says it's urging the interim government to drop the Public Order Amendment Decree, so people can fully participate in the constitutional process.

The five-member Constitution Consultation Commission has met for the first time in Suva this week and will soon be travelling throughout Fiji to hear public views on the new constitution which is to replace the one abrogated by the regime three years ago.

The Reverend Yabaki says he's optimistic that the interests of the people will be at the heart of the Commission.

He says the concern that remains is the ability people have to freely express themselves and he says the Public Order Amendment Decree which requires organisations to secure permits for public gatherings, is a barrier to that.

"We are pressing the government to take that out of the way, all these permits and things so people feel encouraged to make their contribution, they have to give it a try because you cannot have a constitutional process which is about freedom of expression when you have these restrictions in place and I think many people in this country would put that as pretty high on their priority list."

The head of the Citizen Constitutional Forum, Reverend Akuila Yabaki