30 Jul 2005

Fiji NGO express dismay at chiefs' endorsement of amnesty bill

8:38 am on 30 July 2005

Fiji's NGOs have expressed dismay at the Great Council of Chiefs' decision to endorse the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Ratu Meli Vesikula of the Citizens Constitutional Forum has told Fiji TV he wonders why the chiefs want to release coup convicts whom the judiciary has put in prison.

Susana Tuisawau of the Concerned Mothers Group says they feel very let down by the chiefs but will carry on the fight.

Aisake Casimira of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy says the chiefs' decision doesn't assure the people that the future of Fiji will be different.

Angie Heffernan of the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity says no matter how much support the government is able to whip up, it does not make the Bill morally or legally right.

And Prudence Rouse of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Fiji says they have to keep up the struggle.

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 tried and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.