2 Feb 2005

Fiji may ask Britain to help fund settlement of land claims

2:19 pm on 2 February 2005

Fiji's Attorney-General, Qoriniasi Bale, says the Government is considering approaching the British Government for funding to help settle land claims that are over a century old.

Fiji is in the process of setting up an Indigenous Land Claims Tribunal to consider a total of 207 claim applications involving land taken from indigenous Fijians throughout Fiji around 1870.

Mr Bale cannot say how much land is involved in the claims, which await evaluation, but says indigenous owners lost land around the Deed of Cession between Fiji and Britain in 1874.

Mr Bale says the Cabinet has yet to decide whether to take the issue up with Britain.

He says the Government has no idea yet of the value of the land in question, but compensating owners might be a solution.

"If some of those claims are established, then obviously it'll be difficult in most cases to look at the return of those properties because the present owner may know absolutely nothing about those. But we may be looking at compensation, and it is the funding of that compensation scheme that we're still considering at the moment and that is an avenue, but we have not make a decision on it."

The Fiji Attorney-General, Qoriniasi Bale.