16 Nov 2005

Fiji justice committee proposes significant amendments to Reconciliation bill

3:01 pm on 16 November 2005

Two amended versions of the controversial Reconciliation and Unity bill are expected to be tabled in Fiji's parliament at the end of the month.

One will be presented by the Justice, Law and Order sector committee which spent six months travelling around the country hearing people's views and accepting submissions.

The bill attracted controversy as a result of its amnesty provisions, which in the original version, proposed that those convicted of involvement in the 2000 coup, could be pardoned and set free if their actions were based on political motives.

A committee member, Ofa Swann, says they have had to make significant changes to the bill but she would not say what these were.

And, she says it's normal for the government to present its own amendments.

"In my experience since 1999, all reports that have gone into the house, or been tabled, governments have come up with amendments of their own to the bill. So, it's nothing unusual if the current government has amendments to this particular bill that we're discussing at the moment."

Ms Swann says the amended bill is unlikely to be debated before the new year when parliament sits in February.