17 Jun 2005

Fiji Law Society says Reconciliation Bill will license terrorism

10:22 am on 17 June 2005

The Fiji Law Society has warned that the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill will imperil the rule of law in the country.

The warning has been delivered in a submission to parliament's Justice, Law and Order committee which is seeking public views on the Bill.

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

The Law Society president, Graham Leung, said the Bill is a recipe for instability, terror and payback.

Mr Leung said at a time when the whole world was moving to tighten laws against terrorists and terrorism, Fiji wanted to see a law that retrospectively licences terrorism.

He said the powers of the Reconciliation and Amnesty Commission to be set up would be far reaching and interfere with the constitutional independence of the director of public prosecutions to institute or discontinue criminal proceeding.

Mr Leung told the Justice, Law and Order Committee that the future of the country is too important to be decided by narrow, sectional interests and the government should abandon the Bill.

He called on its members to show some courage and intellectual honesty while deliberating on the Bill.