6 Dec 2005

Fiji military takes wait and see approach to controversial bill

7:34 pm on 6 December 2005

The Fiji military says it will wait to see the final version of the Reconciliation and Unity bill presented by the government before it takes any decision on action.

A spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Orisi Rabukawaqa, was speaking after the justice, law and order committee tabled significant amendments to the bill in parliament.

Among other things, the committee proposed that people who committed crimes which resulted in the loss of life, or murder, rape and other sexual offences, would not be eligible for immunity or amnesty.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rabukawaqa says the amendments are recommendations only and the cabinet could again change the bill or present the original to parliament in February.

He says they will know what action to take when they see the final version.

"There is nothing, no intention at all of having any overthrow of a government or anything of that line. It would be a legal challenge in court. From our perspective, basically that it challenges the powers bestowed upon the commander, under our constitution, to effectively discipline soldiers within the force."

Lieutenant-Colonel Rabukawaqa says soldiers would be among those seeking amnesty for their crimes.