Why the imposed 2013 Constitution must go

  • 9th September 2016
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What is wrong with the imposed 2013 Constitution?

There are serious concerns over many of the provisions of the imposed 2013 Constitution – quite apart from the fact that it was imposed on the people of Fiji without any consultations with them. To list the more objectionable provisions:

• It places a limitation on the rights of the people, including the right to life
• it gives the RFMF the “overall responsibility to ensure at all times the security, defence and well being of Fiji and all Fijians,” [ S131 (2)] thereby facilitating the Army’s right to stage another coup; it removes the RFMF from civilian (parliamentary) control;
• 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

• does not observe the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Judiciary remains compromised with restricted jurisdiction and with the AG retaining influence over the appointments of judges, magistrates, Chief Justice, the Solicitor General and the Director of Public Prosecutions

• it removes the privileged status given to land under previous constitutions; there is an absence of specific and clear protection of Land ownership and tenancy rights

• absence of indigenous, group and minority rights including those related to important cultural institutions such as the Great Council of Chiefs

• civil, political and trade union rights embodied in the Bill of Rights are effectively derogated with the continued enforcement of the draconian decrees

• ban on trade unionists to participate in the political life of the nation remains

• absence of adequate recognition and protection of the interests of women

• provides comprehensive immunity provisions for offences connected to the 1987 and 2006 coups and other events; it commits all future parliaments to the immunity provisions, against the wishes of the people

• dictates against good governance – lacks provisions requiring transparency and accountability in the affairs of the State

• dictates against free, fair and credible elections because the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections are beholden to the Attorney General, and not independent as is required under democratic norms

Severe restrictions have been imposed on the people (parliament) for making necessary amendments to the Constitution, requiring a majority of 75% in parliament and in referendum following parliamentary approval.

However, it prohibits the immunity provisions from EVER being amended. .