29 Jul 2004

Fiji civil society watchdog condemns pardon proposal for Seniloli

11:07 am on 29 July 2004

The Citizens Constitutional Forum of Fiji has condemned suggestions that vice president Seniloli could be pardoned if he's convicted of treason at the end of his current trial.

A newspaper report this week said a prominent member of the judiciary had revealed that consultations were under way in the President's Office, on the chances of convening a prerogative-of-mercy commission.

The executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Aquila Yabaki, says "were this to occur, it would bring shame on the Office of the President and on the nation."

The Rev Yabaki says it would prove that there's no justice and equality before the law.

He says historically the prerogative of mercy is exercised "only in the most exceptional circumstances such as where a miscarriage of justice has resulted in the conviction of an innocent person."

The Reverend Yabaki says "the prerogative of mercy is not intended to be used to pardon criminals who happen to be friends with the government of the day."

He says "its use in this way would not only be an abuse of power but would seriously undermine the rule of law."