Political parties face more draconian measures that violate guarantees on the right to privacy and freedom of association promised under the regime’s imposed constitution.
The added imposition is via amendments to the Political Parties(Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Amendment Decree 27, secretly promulgated on 21st October 2013.
One must ask why was the decree not publicized and its promulgation communicated to registered political parties? This gives credence to the view that the regime has a secret agenda against its political opponents.
The decree gives sweeping powers to the Registrar to obtain information from any person, company, association or body of associations, government department, non-governmental organization, statutory authority or entity pertaining to the finances of a political party or any of its officials, under threat of heavy penalties.
The decree overrides the provisions of “any other law on confidentiality, privilege or secrecy”, including the Income Tax Act.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has denounced the decree as “sheer persecution” of political parties and their officials.
“It is unlawful, unconstitutional and an absolute invasion of a person’s right to privacy.
It is specifically targeted at the regime’s political opponents with a view to emasculating political parties,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Penalty for failure to disclose information or to comply with a disclosure order from the Registrar is a fine of up to $50,000 or a 5-year jail term or both. It is to be noted that the Registrar’s office is not an independent entity. It is controlled by the Attorney General
In the case of a company, government department or statutory authority the penalty will apply to the director, chief executive, minister o manager in charge.
We can now understand why Commodore Bainimarama is putting off forming his own proposed political party, thus avoiding his and his family‟s finances from public scrutiny.
He has so far flatly refused to disclose his salary and allowances, despite repeated calls to do so. The same applies to the Attorney General and other ministers of the regime, clearly showing the very selective application of the transparency rule.
28 November 2013