1 Dec 2005

Fiji parliamentary committee recommends major changes to bill

9:10 pm on 1 December 2005

The Fiji parliament's justice, law and order committee has recommended significant changes to the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Radio Legend says the committee chairman, Manasa Tugia, tabled its report in parliament, saying the changes are to ensure that the Bill is constitutional and does not interfere with the judiciary, the DPP, the police and the military.

Mr Tugia said the way that the Bill is currently drafted needs to be adjusted so as to avoid all doubts that its provisions are lawful and constitutional while ensuring the best interests of the nation.

He said the committee believes that the Bill must not be seen to undermine the integrity and the existing statutory powers of the law enforcement and security agencies, the judiciary, the DPP, the Human Rights Commission and such constitutional offices.

Mr Tugia said the committee has recommended to the government that the Reconciliation Commission proposed in the Bill does not apply directly to the judiciary for prosecutions to be suspended but go through the director of public prosecutions.

The committee has also recommended that the necessary reconciliation takes place between wrong doers in the coup and their victims.

272 oral and written submissions were made on the Bill to the justice, law and order committee but Mr Tugia says none was from the Indo-Fijian community.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has told Radio Legend that the cabinet will take the committee's recommendations into account before the final changes are made to the Bill and it is tabled again and put to the vote in parliament in February next year.