AI: Unreasonable restriction

“They (law) don’t hold parliamentarians accountable to what they say, but they say people who critise and challenge parliamentarians should be punished and that are unreasonable restriction on the freedom of expression.”

For anything to go through Parliament, she said, there was an obligation of Parliament and the Speaker of the House to comply with the rule of law.

“And they (Speaker and MPs) should be looking at the content and the spirit of Fiji’s Bill of Rights and its international obligations.

“Those laws must be consistent with the international obligations which Fiji has committed too.

“Ultimately, parliamentarians and the Speaker of the House have that responsibility to ensure Fiji is meeting those obligations before passing such laws.”

Ms Schuetze said AI would have a discussion next week before putting its concerns in writing to the Fijian Government on what the Bill meant for the country.

Responding to Amnesty’s call, Dr Luveni said she had no powers to withdraw anything that had been put to Parliament.

“I have no authority to withdraw,” she said.

“The whole Bill has not been passed by Parliament. It’s still at the committee stage where everybody, including MPs can go and give their views to the committee before it is brought back to Parliament for debate. Anything that has been put into Parliament, I cannot exercise any authority to withdraw it.”

Several attempts to get a comment from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the issue remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press.

Both the PM and the A-G are out of the country on official duties.