17 Aug 2005

Fiji committee given another two months to deal with reconciliation bill submissions

3:36 pm on 17 August 2005

Fiji's parliament has given its Justice, Law and Order committee another two months to consider submissions on the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Radio Legend reports that the extension was approved after the commission chairman, Manasa Tugia, asked for more time to consider the large number of public submissions made and to hold public hearings around Fiji.

Mr Tugia told parliament that in the submissions already vetted, there were 26-thousand signatures opposing the Bill, but many submissions remain to be seen.

He said from the submissions, it was evident that everyone wanted to see Fiji free of the coup culture, but there were big differences in how this was to be achieved.

The submissions also raised concerns that the Bill further threatens democracy and could lead the country into future upheavals.

The committee will table its final report on the Bill in the November sitting of the Lower House.

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