20 Jun 2005

Fiji Human Rights Commission says Reconciliation Bill inconsistent with constitution

7:03 am on 20 June 2005

The Fiji Human Rights Commission says the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill is inconsistent with the country's constitution and does not meet the requirements of international law.

The Fiji Sun reports that the Human Rights Commission makes these comments in a submission to parliament's Justice, Law and Order Committee.

The commission chairman, Walter Rigamoto, says the inconsistencies within the Bill and the constitution are serious, and such sections of the Bill can be declared invalid by the courts if any application is made.

Mr Rigamoto says the Bill does not meet United Nations requirements under international law for establishing reconciliation and truth commissions.

He says international law requires governments which want to establish a reconciliation commission to consult with victims at all stages and to provide for a separation of powers between its relevant bodies.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission says the Bill will seriously erode the independence of the judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police.

It has asked that consideration of the Bill be deferred.