21 Jul 2012

Fiji decrees ignore democracy, says commission

1:37 pm on 21 July 2012

Military rulers in Fiji have issued two decrees granting themselves immunity from prosecution.

The decrees issued this week by the Fiji Government stipulate immunity provisions for all coup leaders and give Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama the right to appoint a new Constituent Assembly.

An independent commission set up by the military government to draft a new constitution says the decrees ignore essential principles of democracy.

Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai says while the constitution needs immunity provisions they should be defined through submission and debate rather than decree.

He says if Mr Bainimarama appoints the Constituent Assembly, which will debate the draft, it would compromise the body's independence.

Fiji's interim attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says by defining the immunity provisions now, the commission is free to concentrate on the future.