20 May 2005

Another legal body questions Fiji's Reconciliation Bill

10:07 am on 20 May 2005

The Law Association for Asia and the Pacific has expressed extreme concern for the rule of law in Fiji.

Radio Legend reports that its president, G. M. Sanghi's concern is based on the Qarase government's proposed Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

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

Mr Sanghi has questioned the aim of the Bill, which will allow amnesty to be granted to coup convicts currently serving jail sentences after going through the judicial process.

Mr Sanghi says while efforts to establish unity and reconciliation are essential, it must not occur at the expense of the rule of law.

Mr Sanghi has called on the international legal community to support the Fiji Law Society in its efforts to see that reconciliation takes place without compromising human rights, the rule of law and faith in the legal system.

The president of the Law Society, Graham Leung, says the Bill needs to be removed from the political process for reconciliation to be credible and effective.

But parliamentary officials have confirmed the government will table the Bill in the House next week.