12 Sep 2017

Fiji opposition wants criticism bill withdrawn

2:14 pm on 12 September 2017

Fiji's main opposition party is calling on the government to withdraw a bill it says will stifle any criticism or debate.

Bill 28, which is likely to be passed when parliament sits in November, proposes penalties for defaming, demeaning or undermining the sanctity of parliament.

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Photo: Fiji Parliament

Individuals who are convicted would face a $US15,000 fine or five years in prison, while companies would would face a $US50,000 fine and prison terms for director and managers.

The general secretary of the Sodelpa party, Adi Litia Qionibaravi said the provisions could be turned into a political weapon.

"The bill proposes that no one can criticise any member of parliament and the party views that it in many ways will silence those who wish to raise information or argue against what members of parliament have to say. So it's just going to curtail the freedom of expression," said Adi Litia Qionibaravi.

She said the opposition did not have the numbers to block the bill, but the government should withdraw it anyway.

The government meanwhile said the bill wouldn't stifle criticism of MPs and it only applies to the institution of parliament.