13 Jun 2005

Opposition to Fiji's Reconciliation Bill steps up campaign

12:23 pm on 13 June 2005

Fiji's NGOs and civil society groups have stepped up their campaign against the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill both locally and internationally.

The executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Rev Aquila Yabaki, is already overseas to brief the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union and the World Council of Churches on the implications of the Bill.

The general secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh, has told a conference of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva that the Bill is in breach of Fiji's Constitution and interferes with the powers of the judiciary.

Mr Singh told the ILO enacting the Bill would create a dangerous precedent, be a recipe for continuing future civil unrest and result in further losses of skilled workers and investment.

Within Fiji, the newly formed Concerned Mothers Against the Bill and Citizens Against the Bill have circulated petitions to people to sign and mail to parliament's Justice, Law and Order Committee which is receiving submissions.

A spokesperson for the Concerned Mothers group, Suliana Siwatibau, widow of the former USP vice chancellor, says if the Bill is passed, it would violate the independence of the judiciary.

Mrs Siwatibau says it would also dishonor the court's ruling on those convicted of criminal acts during the coup by re-labelling them as politically motivated.