4 May 2005

Fiji proposes new law to speed post-coup reconciliation

3:55 pm on 4 May 2005

Fiji's Attorney-General is rejecting suggestions that a proposed new law on reconciliation is designed to free coup convicts and to end all coup investigations.

The Government has confirmed that it will table in Parliament a Reconciliation and Unity Bill to speed reconciliation of differences arising from several political coups since 1987.

The Attorney-General, Qoriniasi Bale, says the Bill will set up a Reconciliation and Unity Commission to undertake inquiries in cases of voluntary reconciliation.

The commission would make recommendations and advise on the granting of amnesty and pardons to those who reveal voluntarily what happened during, for example, the 2000 coup.

The State would set aside funds for reparations and compensation for coup victims.

Mr Bale says a second commission would be established later to promote unity.

He says these steps do not mean the Government has lost faith in the court process.

"We respect the processes that have gone, but it's been hanging around for far too long now, and like I said, we would like to close that chapter as soon as possible of an unhappy past for this nation and move forward."

Mr Bale says the Bill will be tabled shortly and is expected to be debated in August.