28 Jul 2005

Fiji NGOs to meet Great Council of Chiefs over Reconciliation Bill

9:39 am on 28 July 2005

Fiji's NGOs will field a strong team to take their opposition to the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill before the Great Council of Chiefs today.

The NGOs have formed a coalition of Concerned Citizens Against the Bill.

They will be represented by the Fiji Law Society, the Fiji Institute of Accountants, the Fiji Women's Rights Movement and the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

A spokesperson, the Rev Akuila Yabki, says they will tell the Great Council of Chiefs of the unfortunate consequences to Fiji if the Bill is passed.

The military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, will address the chiefs on the implications of the Bill for the rule of law and justice.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, will present the government's case for the Bill and a spokesman for the Methodist Church will also speak in its favour.

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.