First phase of cultural data collection completed – PM

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on his way to Parliament on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Picture: PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI

The first phase of data collection for the 14 provinces under the cultural mapping programs has been completed, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told Parliament on Monday.

He was speaking on the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs program and initiatives to encourage the learning and transfer of indigenous ecological knowledge and environmental management. Currently, he said, data was verified, cleaned and would be stored in the traditional knowledge and expression of cultural database.

“The database will be a depository of knowledge and information and will morph into a registry,” he said.

He said this was a critical component of the Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture (TKEC) Bill which would be put to Parliament soon.

He said the ministry was working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers on the TKEC Bill, specific law that covered traditional knowledge.

“The TKEC Bill provides for the registration, the ownership and protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression.”

He said the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs had over the years undertaken a nationwide exercise on cultural mapping to be able to transcribe, file and compile an accurate record of iTaukei traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression and the exercise was yet to be finalised.

“Until the cultural mapping exercise is complete and the registry is set up, the Bill, even if implemented now, will not be effective.”

“Owners and designers of traditional knowledge and cultural expression will first need to be established before action can be taken against unlawfully using the traditional cultural knowledge or traditional cultural expression.

“But once it is set up, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it will provide a legal recourse for traditional communities to claim against a person, a company or an institution they feel is misusing their designs, traditional totems or traditional knowledge.”

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