8 Jul 2005

Fiji government orders Police Commissioner not to comment on Reconciliation Bill

10:16 am on 8 July 2005

The Fiji government has ordered the police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, not to comment on its controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Fiji Times reports that the home affairs minister, Josefa Vosanibola, issued the order after the Police Force described the Bill as one that would create more division, encourage coups, and threaten national peace and stability.

The newspaper says a summary from parliament on the police submission on the Bill says it would not serve the purpose of reconciliation, tolerance and unity.

The Police Force has strongly opposed the amnesty clause for coup related crimes, saying justice must take its course.

As well, it says the Bill undermines the constitutional powers vested in the Police Commissioner and the major functions of the force to investigate and prosecute offenders.

The police submission says the force believes the primary purpose of the Bill is to grant amnesty for serious criminal offences during the coup, which included treason, murder, personal injuries and damage to property.

Mr Hughes has confirmed that after he showed a copy of the police submission to the minister, Mr Vosanibola told him not to publicly comment on the Bill.