23 May 2017

Fiji government trying to legalise MP suspensions - NGO

2:08 pm on 23 May 2017

A Fiji civil society group says the government is trying to pass legislation to legalise the suspension of three opposition MPs.

The Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at Government House in Auckland

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama Photo: RNZ/ALEX PERROTTET

Pacific Dialogue was stopped during the presentation of its submission on clause 24 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges bill when it said the government had acted illegally.

The new legislation is to punish those who demean, defame or undermine parliament and carries heavy fines and jail terms.

Pacific Dialogue said the measure was punitive, not needed and not found in other democracies.

Chairman Jone Dakuvula said he pointed out the government had no power to suspend the three MPs and then was stopped when he said the new legislation was designed to legalise these earlier moves.

"One of the members objected to me continuing but the other thing that disappointed us was that the media was there, journalists from all the media were there, [yet] they hardly covered our submission. There was only the Fiji Times - there was a very little piece there, and we have sent our submission and a summary of it to all the media, but there was no publicity, because they are fearful of this government."

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