18 Apr 2005

Custom court needed in Fiji because Fijians forced to live by imported concepts - chief

8:24 pm on 18 April 2005

The Fiji government is preparing legislation to incorporate customary laws into the legal system and set up a separate Fijian court for indigenous Fijians only.

A five-member committee headed by the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, has been given the responsibility to set up the court.

Mr Bale says it's difficult to try and define customary laws and draw the line between general court laws and the Fijian court so the system isn't abused.

A member of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, says his fellow indigenous Fijians are bound to live by imported concepts.

"Unfortunately we are being forced to abide by democracy, and are quite new to the culture we as Fijians live by; and this is the problem that's facing us: Whilst we are a multiracial country, we are being forced to live by the culture of others."

Ratu Josateki says the legislation's not designed to be politically expedient for indigenous Fijians linked with the coup.