Fijian Parliament: Comply with standards before submitting petitions, says Speaker

Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau in Parliament on February 17, 2020. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJIAN PARLIAMENT

MEMBERS of Parliament have been urged to comply with standards in order for petitions to be tabled before Parliament.

While delivering his ruling in relation to petitions received from the Opposition, Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau outlined the standards that need to be followed:

The petition must be in English and must attach hand-written signature(s).

It must ask for a clear action from the Fijian Government or Parliament.

It must not seek to usurp the authority of the executive or the judiciary as prescribed by law or subvert administrative or legal processes prescribed by law.

It must be about something that the Fijian Government or Parliament is responsible for. This means it must not seek action from private individuals or entities that the Fijian Government or Parliament is not responsible for. Furthermore, it must not ask for someone to be given a job, licence, permit, contract or honour or to lose such job, licence, permit, contract or honour, including petitions asking for a vote of no confidence in a person outside of Parliament and petitions calling for such a person to resign.

It must not refer to a matter that is subjudice which means that, put simply, it must not seek to deal with any matter that is before the courts including matters on trial or on appeal. Furthermore, it must not contain material that may be protected by an injunction or court order.

It must not seek to infringe or violate the rights of a person guaranteed under the Constitution or a written law.

It must not be offensive or extreme in its views. That includes petitions that attack, criticise or negatively focus on an individual or a group of people because of their actual or supposed personal characteristics or circumstances, including race, culture, ethnic or social origin, colour, place of origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, birth, primary language, economic or social or health status, disability, age, religion, conscience, marital status or pregnancy or opinions or beliefs.

It must not be defamatory or libellous, or contain false statements.

It must not contain swearing or other offensive language.

It must not contain material that could be confidential or commercially sensitive.

It must not be likely to cause personal distress or loss. This includes petitions that could intrude into someone’s personal grief or shock without their consent.

It must not accuse an identifiable person or organisation of a crime.

It must not name individual officials of public bodies.

It must not name family members of elected representatives, e.g. Members of Parliament, or of officials of public bodies.

It must not be an act of political campaigning or grandstanding.

It must be genuine and not nonsense or a joke.

It must not be an advertisement, spam, or promote a specific product or service.

It must not be of the same subject matter as a petition that has already been finally dealt with by Parliament during the term of Parliament unless substantial or new evidence in relation to the subject matter of the petition is available and that evidence was not available when the earlier petition was considered.

“I urge you to consider these standards before submitting any petitions to Parliament in the future,” Ratu Epeli said.

“I would also advise you all to consider whether the outcomes you seek are best suited for petitions or if there are other parliamentary processes which may better serve you,” he said.

 

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