3 Sep 2012

Fiji people too afraid to speak out on new constitution: women's NGO

4:03 am on 3 September 2012

The co-ordinator of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre says many people are too afraid to offer their opinions on the new constitution because police are sitting in on submissions hearings.

Shamima Ali says the refusal by local newspapers to print a paid advertisement expressing women's rights groups' concerns about the constitution-making process confirms the persistence of censorship.

She says instead of allowing free and open debate around the constitution as promised, the interim regime is, indirectly, stopping people from speaking out.

"The fact that there are police officers in plain clothes who are sitting during submissions and taking copious notes and people who are around there are scared to speak out and say fully what they want to say because they know the police officers are there."

Shamima Ali says a police officer refused to leave a youth group meeting after the young people asked him to leave because they didn't feel they could speak freely.