16 Apr 2015

Call for restrictions on Fiji NGOs to go before next election

6:59 am on 16 April 2015

The international group which observed Fiji's election last year has called a for a law restricting civil society groups to be revised.

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Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

In its final report on the election the Multinational Observer Group has recommended section 115 of the Electoral Decree be changed to encourage groups to engage in the election process.

Sally Round reports.

The provision restricts any group receiving foreign funding from campaigning on election issues, which includes organising debates, meetings or publishing information.

Many NGOs called for the restriction to be lifted as they said it was hampering their civic education work in the lead up to the September polls.

The observers say its very existence had a negative effect even though the Fijian Elections Office interpreted the section liberally.

One of the NGOs affected by the law, the Citizens' Constitutional Forum, has welcomed the report and said it highlighted some of the vital and challenging experiences of the elections.

The CCF was investigated by Fiji's corruption agency FICAC after it hosted a forum on free and fair elections in the lead-up to the polls.

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