22 Jul 2005

Reconciliation Bill won't interfere with judiciary, says Fiji PM

2:02 pm on 22 July 2005

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is insisting that his government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill will not interfere with the judiciary.

Radio Legend reports that Mr Qarase was speaking at the National Advisory Committee of the Indian and minority communities in Suva today.

Mr Qarase said his government had not interfered with the judicial process and it had no intention of doing so.

He said the government maintains its respect for the integrity and independence of the law enforcement agencies.

But he says many coup investigations are still continuing with the resources of the authorities being stretched to the limit.

Mr Qarase says the delayed and prolonged process is a problem for the country and is an obstacle to Fiji's progress - hence the Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Mr Qarase's views contradict those of the Fiji Law Society, the police, the military, the Fiji Human Rights Commission and numerous NGOs and concerned groups who insist the Bill will interfere with the independence of the judiciary and the police.

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