18 Oct 2002

Fiji senate approves hearsay bill

11:22 am on 18 October 2002

Fiji's senate has passed a bill which will allow courts to admit hearsay evidence in civil proceedings.

The Civil Evidence Bill was approved by the Upper House despite criticism from both the government and Labour Party senators.

Government senator, Ahmed Ali, said the bill would elevate gossip to actionable evidence in the courts.

He warned that hearsay evidence could be, and was sometimes fabricated.

Dr Ali said people could become victims of the bill, resulting in the miscarriage of justice.

Labour senator, Ponipate Lesavua, warned that hearsay evidence could become a big industry because of the prevalence of gossip in Fiji and people would want to make money from it.

Government senator, Ratu Josaiya Raiyawa, said the Bible did not support hearsay evidence.

But the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, said jusges would have the last say and those who gave fake hearsay evidence could be charged with perjury.