4 Jul 2005

Former NZ PM Palmer critical of Fiji Reconciliation Bill

7:28 am on 4 July 2005

A former New Zealand prime minister has warned that the Fiji government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill "appears to be a recipe for constitutional disaster."

The Fiji Times quotes Sir Geoffrey Palmer as saying the Bill is drafted in such a way that it does not allow the president, as head of the country, to have any say.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer says the president has no discretion to refuse to act on the advice given by the proposed Amnesty Commission.

Sir Geoffrey, who is a constitutional law expert, says he sees "no way in which this proposed legislation as currently fashioned can advance the interests of Fiji."

He says the bill is an affront to human rights, the rule of law and judicial independence.

Sir Geoffrey says "the Bill is also unconstitutional and should be abandoned."

Fiji's attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, who drafted the Bill, says Sir Geoffrey is entitled to his opinion but has refused to comment further.