22 Jul 2005

Fiji Methodist Church confirms support for reconciliation bill

10:15 am on 22 July 2005

A senior official of Fiji's Methodist Church says they support the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill because it would allow the families of political prisoners to live normal lives.

The Fiji Times quotes the Rev Iliesa Naivalu as saying it is easy to charge people and imprison them without considering what happens to their families.

The Rev Naivalu says the judicial system does not address what happens to the families of convicts who are jailed.

The Bill will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.

Meanwhile, Fiji's largest organisation for indigenous women, the Soqosoqo Vakamarama, has also come out in support of the Bill.

A spokesperson, Adi Finau Tabakaucoro, says members support the Bill in line with the stand taken by their provinces.

The National Council of Women with nearly 40 affiliates throughout Fiji has come out against the Bill saying it undermines the rule of law including the efforts of the police, the director of public prosecutions, the judiciary and the constitutional role of the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

But Adi Finau says the Soqosoqo Vakamarama's views were not represented in the stand taken by the National Council of Women.