16 Nov 2016

Fiji opposition wants decree scrapped

6:32 pm on 16 November 2016

Fiji's opposition SODELPA party has called for a government decree to be repealed because it places the country in a constant state of emergency.

Fiji SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka

Fiji SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka Photo: AFP

The party made the submission to the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and human rights.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka said the Public Order Act was enacted in 1969 on the eve of Fiji's independence to avoid unrest.

Mr Rabuka said the 2012 Public Order Amendment Decree then inserted emergency laws into the act which were not needed now that Fiji has held elections and a parliamentary system is in place.

He said the provisions conflict with the freedom of assembly and have meant people require permits for the most routine of meetings.

"My own village had a fund-raising bazaar for the church and they were asked to please obtain a permit because I was going to be in attendance. So if the changes happen, then people will start to feel that environment of freedom coming back into their lives and communal lives," said Sitiveni Rabuka.

Mr Rabuka also said the decree gives the military the right to perform police functions and authorises the government to use whatever force is necessary to enforce public order.

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