23 May 2005

Fiji Law Society hits out at proposed Reconciliation Bill calling it repugnant

7:10 am on 23 May 2005

The Fiji Law Society says the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill is repugnant because it means politicians can effectively overrule the power of the judiciary.

The society's president, Graham Leung, says if passed, the legislation will undo the work of the courts, especially in relation to persons who have already been tried according to law for coup related offences.

The Sunday Times quotes Mr Leung as saying, "It's likely to demoralise the judiciary and sap it of the will to continue its work."

He says that it sends a strong signal that politicians can, when they choose to do so, cut short the judicial process.

Mr Leung says if the nation keeps condoning criminality and coup related offences, it would encourage others to stage future coups.

He says it is time to stop the cycle of coups.

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.