22 Nov 2005

Parliamentary debate on Fiji amnesty bill set for delay

10:27 am on 22 November 2005

A report from Fiji says parliamentary debate on the government's controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill is likely to be delayed till next year despite it being scheduled for the current session.

The Daily Post says the delay would allow the government more time to study the recommendations of parliament's justice, law and order committee which has been considering public submissions.

The Post quotes the secretary general to parliament, Mary Chapman, as saying the chairman of the committee, Manasa Tugia, has indicated that he will be presenting his report to the House in December.

The debate on the Bill is due to begin after the tabling of the report but sources close to the committee have hinted that it will be rescheduled till February next year to give the government more time to study the recommendations.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says the Bill has drawn a huge response from the public both for and against, and based on these the justice, law and order committee is expected make changes.

In its present form, the Bill will fast track amnesty for coup convicts like Speight and government MPs, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.