11 Oct 2005

Fiji's council of churches hopes good sense will prevail over reconciliation and unity bill

6:55 pm on 11 October 2005

The Fiji Council of Churches says it hopes the government makes the necessary changes to its controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The council's general secretary, the Rev Isireli Kacimaiwai, has told Radio Legend that the prime minister has promised amendments and he hopes good sense will prevail.

Although the Methodist Church has come out in strong support of the Bill, the Rev Kacimaiwai says it is unfortunate that member churches of the council have yet to make submissions on the Bill.

He also says that churches should not pressure their members to take a stand on the Bill, adding that no one should be forced to support or oppose the Bill.

The Bill will be debated in the parliamentary session which begins in November.

In its present form, it will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like 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.

But the prime minister has promised that amendments will be made to ensure that the constitutional powers of the police, the judiciary and the director of public prosecutions are not compromised.