18 Feb 2016

NGO calls for reversal of changes to Fiji standing orders

10:26 am on 18 February 2016

The Fiji Coalition on Human Rights is calling on parliamentarians to reverse two of the changes made to parliamentary standing orders last week which it says may stifle democratic engagement and debate.

Tara Chetty, Chief Executive of Fiji Women's Rights Movement.

Tara Chetty Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

The first change to Standing Order 37 introduces a condition requiring public petitions secure a 40 percent vote of support in parliament, or 20 MPs, before going before any parliamentary standing comittee.

The other change to Standing Order 117 removes a clause stipulating that the chair of the Public Accounts Comittee be a member of the parliamentary opposition group.

The chairperson of the Coalition on Human Rights, Tara Chetty, said the changes could damage people's perception of Fiji's parliament as being a democratic and accountable institution.

"They were changed so rapidly that it would also be possible, we believe to change them back quite rapidly. Or to perhaps come up with an alternative quite rapidly.

"But apart from that we do know that there are other avenues for the public to have input into parliamentary policy-making processes so we also call on the MPs to look at strengthening that."

Ms Chetty said her organisation would be following up with individual parliamentarians on the issue.