6 Dec 2005

Fiji to absorb customs in legislation

4:56 pm on 6 December 2005

Moves are under way by Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs to incorporate indigenous Fijian customs and traditions into the country's legislation.

Fiji TV reports the move is based on Section 186 of the 1997 Constitution which requires parliament to make provision for the application of customary laws for dispute resolution in accordance with traditional Fijian processes.

The report says a team from the Attorney General's Office and another comprising senior indigenous lawyers are fine-tuning the proposal which is expected to become law next year.

The Bill aims to make Fijian customs and traditional practices such as apology, forgiveness and reconciliation recognised by law.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says the challenge is to determine the appropriate jurisdiction for the revival of the Fijian Court System so that it does not clash with the Central Courts and produce two parallel judicial systems.

Mr Bale says the Fijian courts will have jurisdiction only on issues that apply solely to the indigenous Fijian community.

A Fijian court system used in colonial times was abolished around the time of independence.