17 May 2005

Fiji's Reconciliation Commission 'will take country back to law of the jungle'

8:18 am on 17 May 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has warned that the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill will take the country back to what he calls the law of the jungle.

Mr Beddoes says the Bill is nothing but an attempt by the government to create a legal framework through which it can grant amnesty and pardon to the perpetrators of the May 2000 coup.

He says the Qarase government seems hell-bent on rewarding the lawbreakers and condemning the law-abiding citizens of Fiji.

Mr Beddoes says the most alarming thing about the Bill is that it would give legitimacy to "political motives" as being an acceptable reason for overthrowing a duly-elected government.

Section 21 of the Bill gives the commission powers to require a court to suspend proceedings against an applicant for amnesty.

Mr Beddoes says this section makes it clear there will be wholesale interference with the independence of the judiciary.