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Indigenous rights protected in draft

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

INDIGENOUS rights was one of the main issues highlighted during the draft constitution consultations in Nadi on Monday.

Concerns were raised by many people on whether native rights were protected in the document.

"If you look at the non-discriminatory provision in section 26, you did not have culture before, you now have culture. You did not have social origin before. Now you have social origin," said Attorney-General and Minister for Electoral Reform Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

"A lot of people talk about the International Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Unfortunately, a lot of people talk about it but they don't really know why it started. Fiji is one of very few places where the indigenous population owns 91 per cent of the land and they've actually had political control of the country.

"You cannot discriminate against anybody on the basis of their culture.

"The 1997 Constitution did not provide you that safeguard and that provision, as you know, is now under the draft and if the draft becomes the new constitution, your cultural rights cannot be taken away from you. It's protected in every single law.

"It's not just in the Native Lands Trust Act or whatever.

"If we make any law regarding women, garbage collection, whatever it maybe, it is protected in the constitution."


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