3 May 2017

Fiji academic says bill would stifle democracy

12:13 pm on 3 May 2017

A Fiji academic says a government bill currently before the house would stifle democracy if enacted.

Professor Vijay Naidu

Professor Vijay Naidu Photo: The University of the South Pacific

Submissions are open on the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill, which proposes penalties for defaming, demeaning or undermining the sanctity of parliament.

A professor with the School of Government at the Univeristy of the South Pacific, Vijay Naidu, said clause 24 of the bill would prevent Fiji's nascent democracy from becoming robust.

The clause proposes fines of about $US15,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Corporations convicted of contravening the clause would risk a fine of about $US50,000 with each director and manager liable for prison terms.

"What we need is a more sort of nurturing and enabling environment towards this democracy, rather than laws that actually engender fear of debate and discussion. But to introduce at this stage this kind of legislation, as I see it, is designed to stifle the very basis of democracy," said Professor Naidu.

The committee considering the bill is hearing oral submissions while written submissions will be accepted until 15 May.

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