10 Feb 2012

Fiji AG assures no abuse of new defamation decree

1:53 pm on 10 February 2012

Fiji's interim attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has told Fiji media that he and other interim ministers won't abuse a new decree which bans legal challenges of their statements.

In his first public comment since the decree's adoption last month, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the State Proceedings Amendment Decree is to ensure that the ministers can publicise information without fear of legal action.

The interim government also says the decree will restore a level playing field and protect the media.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum adds that it is sad that the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is misleading people overseas on the issue by saying Fiji is becoming like a banana republic.

Mr Chaudhry also says together with the new Public Order Decree, it will undermine any chance of the next election being free, fair and credible.

An Auckland University law professor, Bill Hodge, has told the ABC that to say the decree is consistent with parliamentary privilege is berserk, bananas and bizarre.