Fiji parties call for definition of child under parties decree
Political parties in Fiji have called for the definition of a child to be included in the controversial political parties decree.
Political parties in Fiji have until 7 June to declare their assets and liabilities to the government under the regime's Political Parties Decree.
But party members and executives are crying foul over a need to reveal the financial details of their spouses and children, and are also questioning the definition of a child.
Jamie Tahana reports:
A senior executive for the SODELPA party, Dr Tupeni Baba, says the requirements are among the strictest in the Commonwealth, but the party will meet them on time. The National Federation Party President, Raman Singh, says his party will also hand theirs in on time.
RAMAN SINGH: It is part of the decree, although very onerous and demanding. But we are going to oblige. We are collating all of the information for each of the persons concerned and before the end of the time limitation we will be lodging our assets and liabilities.
But Mr Singh says it is not fair to have to declare the details of party members' children and the decree makes no attempt to define a child. So after referring to other laws that define a child as an under-18 year old, the party won't submit the details of adults who aren't in the care of party members or executives. But he admits the party could be in big trouble if the registrar of political parties wants the details of adult children.
RAMAN SINGH: Oh, yeah. There'll be a big problem because children are independent and they might revolt, they might decide not to disclose. We have taken interpretation on legal advice and will abide by that.
SODELPA's Dr Tupeni Baba agrees having to declare assets and liabilities of children is ridiculous.
DR TUPENI BABA: There are difficulties about our children who are married, who have their own families who have no connection to us. It is possible that we have got a lot of court cases on our hands. Our children and their spouses who want to protect their own privacy because these assets that we declare are supposed to be declared publicly and the media will pick it up and then they'll be there for everybody to see.
Dr Baba says his party is making a submission for the government to amend the decree and remove the need to declare the assets and liabilities of children.
DR TUPENI BABA: We're looking at it. We're making submissions for amendment of the requirements of the decree and it'd be reasonable if we regard it as children meaning going up to 18. But there is not definition in the decree. It is badly drafted.
Dr Baba says he is unsure whether his plea will be successful as the requirements may be a ploy by the government to filter out political parties ahead of the 2014 elections.
DR TUPENI BABA: The kind of hurdles that we have to go through before we get to elections are well-known and leaves a very nasty thought in the minds of people whether the intention of the decree is to facilitate elections or to, basically, facilitate the elimination of political parties.
But FijiLive reports the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, saying the decree is clear and all requirements need to be followed. But the article didn't give any declaration of what a child is. The parties have until 7 June to submit their declarations which will then be gazetted and published in the media. They also need to provide their income details and directorships, business transactions or any gifts received. However, gifts received from close friends and families in a traditional way and gifts given on behalf of a nation will be exempted.
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