18 Apr 2005

Attorney General not sure when customary laws will be incorporated into Fiji justice system

7:31 pm on 18 April 2005

Fiji's Attorney General says it's unclear when the government will incorporate customary laws into the legal system and set up a separate Fijian court for its indigenous people.

Mr Bale heads a five-member committee which he says has been working on the controversial issue for the past three years.

He says that forming the legislation is a requirement of the constitution, but the process has been complicated and it's uncertain when the law will take effect.

"What we are doing is we're trying to enact law on it. The law itself will be applied when it comes into force. It may come into force next year, it may come into force after the life of this parliamentary term, I don't know."

Mr Bale says the committtee has had difficulty defining customary law because it differs from area to area.

He says the Fijian court system is likely to only address laws applicable to Fijians in their local communities, such as the issue of keeping villages clean.