July 20, 2012

Constitutional Commission raises concerns on sections of new decrees

Publish date/time: 20/07/2012 [08:13]

The Constitutional Commission has raised concerns on certain sections of the two decrees relating to the process of drafting the new constitution.

In a statement signed by the five commissioners, Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, Professor Yash Ghai said the Constitution Commission decree requires a broad immunity provision for the 2006 and earlier coups to be entrenched in the new constitution.

Professor Ghai said they are concerned about these provisions as the decree states that the new constitution is to grant the same broad immunity for actions up to the first meeting of a new parliament to members of the government, administration and security forces as was granted by the decree in 2010.

He said this type of prospective immunity up to the new parliament sitting in 2014 is most unusual and he said the Commissioners are concerned that the people of Fiji have not been consulted in any way on this important matter.

When questioned on this issue by Fijivillage, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said majority of the people know that political immunity has to continue until the next parliamentary sitting. 

He stressed that the people who will make submissions on the new constitution can talk about any issue and the required immunity provision does not stop them from talking about the past.

Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, Professor Ghai and the Commissioners also say that the Constituent Assembly Decree gives the Prime Minister full control over the size and composition of the assembly.

Ghai said there is no provision giving the groups that are represented a say in who should represent them in the assembly. 

The Constitutional Commissioners said these arrangements effectively mean that the essential principles of democracy are ignored and the independence of the assembly is negated.

Professor Ghai said in light of the fact that some members of the present government may wish to contest the next elections, it is particularly important that they should not control the process.

Acting Prime Minister, Sayed-Khaiyum has raised concern on this statement as he said there are clear safeguards in place.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the government will definitely ensure that nothing is done to taint the process.

Stay with us we will have more on this later today.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

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