16 May 2005

Fiji Human Rights Commission says reconciliation bill is unconstitutional

2:39 pm on 16 May 2005

The Fiji Human Rights Commission says the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill is unconstitutional and may create havoc in the judicial system.

The Bill will set up a commission with powers to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records and give immunity to those not yet prosecuted.

The director of the Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, says the Bill is in conflict with provisions of the Constitution, the Penal Code and the Human Rights Act.

Dr Shameem says crimes committed during the coup such as treason may well have been politically motivated, but so far they have been dealt as criminal offences under the Penal Code.

Dr Shameem says the commission had investigated human rights violations of farmers in Muaniweni in 2000 and found that criminal activity has been ordered and orchestrated by those with political motivations.

She says the government should refer the Bill to the Supreme Court for its opinion on whether it complies with the Constitution and the Fiji Human Rights Act.