5 Oct 2004

Fiji to undertake major review of penal and criminal procedure codes

4:24 pm on 5 October 2004

There's to be a major review of Fiji's penal code and its criminal procedure code with work beginning on it from next month.

The chair of the Law Reform Commission, Alipate Qetake, says laws are outdated and many originate from the 1950s.

He says there will be an overhaul of the laws concerning prostitution, abortion, terrorism and money laundering, among others.

Mr Qetake says some of the legislation concerns controversial subjects and they will be seeking the views of the community in as broad consultations as possible.

"What we'll do is we'll prepare issue papers and discussion papers. These will be translated into the vernaculars, the Hindustani and Fijian vernaculars. And, then we'll distribute this to as wide an audience as possible and that will be the basis of consultation. We'll be asking questions and they will be responding."

Mr Qetaki says the Law Reform Commission will ensure that what they recommend is practical, effective, fair and just.

The consultation and review is expected to take between nine to twelve months and to be funded by New Zealand.

The NZ Aid manager in Fiji, Nicki Wrighton, says they're committed to funding the project but are yet to receive full costs.

She says it could cost up to 235,000 US dollars.

I guess one of the legacies that Fiji and a lot of post-colonial countries work on is that a lot of the legislation that they operate on, was imported from somewhere else. It's a good opportunity we see, to have some robust pieces of legislation that are upt to date, that are consistent, that are across the board, and that are meaningful for here.

Ms Wrigthon says there will be widespread consultation with the community and the review could take up to twelve months to complete.