The Fiji Labour Party stands vindicated in its condemnation of the regime’s imposed 2013 constitution.
This is what we said about it in our 2014 Election Manifesto:
It is undemocratic and merely entrenches the old order established since April 2009. It is meant to consolidate the regime’s hold on power. It contains no input from the public at large and does not reflect the will of the people.
It continues the absolutism Fiji has experienced in the past 7 years under the regime :
All draconian decrees promulgated since 2009 continue in force, overriding the human rights provisions of the constitution. They violate core international conventions and instruments on the basic rights of the people.
It does not observe the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary. The judiciary remains compromised with the Attorney General retaining influence over the appointments of judges, magistrates, the Solicitor General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Civil, political, human and trade unions rights embodied in the Bill of Rights are effectively derogated with the continued enforcement of the draconian decrees.
The ban on trade unionists to participate in the political life of the nation remains.
It lacks provisions requiring transparency and accountability in the affairs of the State: the pillars of good governance
It concentrates wide powers in the hands of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to the exclusion of checks and balances against abuse of such powers.
It removes the privileged status given to Land issues in all previous Fiji constitutions, creating acute insecurity among both the landowner and the tenant communities
It lacks provisions to protect and ensure the rights of women
Free, fair and credible elections cannot be held under this constitution because the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections continue to be beholden to the Attorney General, and are not independent as is the requirement under democratic norms.
We have been proven right.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Fiji has called for a comprehensive review of the constitution to reflect the will of the people. There is an assumption here that the constitution does not reflect the will of the people. And that is, indeed, correct.
However, the suggestion by UNHRC that Fiji consider establishing a Constitution Commission to undertake the review, can be more effectively dealt with by simply reinstating the Ghai Commission draft constitution for public consultation before being laid in parliament for its consideration.
The job of producing an inclusive constitution reflective of the will of the people was accomplished by the Ghai Commission in 2012. The draft was presented to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for it to be referred to a constituent assembly for debate and adoption. The assembly was never appointed.
The draft was trashed by Ratu Epeli, Bainimarama and Khaiyum because they did not consider it would be good for Fiji’s future although all political parties, then existing, had endorsed it.
Thus, a draft constitution modeled on democratic governance framework was discarded for a tailor-made document which has failed the scrutiny of the world’s top human rights body.
Let us see what the regime does next!