Serious crime offenders to forgo parole

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum pictured here with FBC reporter Aliki Bia during a break in the parliamentary sitting yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

A TOTAL of 143 people jailed for crimes such as murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery and sexual offences who were eligible for parole will now have to serve their full sentences.

This after the Corrections Services Amendment Bill 2019 was enacted after an hour of debate in Parliament yesterday.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bill was prompted by a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, which would have seen 143 prisoners released in the near future.

“What we are trying to do is say look, that ruling is not in conjunction with or alignment with the current policies that we have and that is we need to send out a very strong deterrence,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“In fact, I have seen the list of 140 odd prisoners and I’ve seen the list of offences they have carried out.

“They are very serious offences, predominantly they are to deal with sexual offences, most of them are sexual offences, and the next one is grievous bodily harm.

“So obviously, in one hand, if we are going to talk about the rape and sexual offences in Fiji has increased, then we are going to release majority of these prisoners who have committed these sexual crimes, then what message are we sending. That is the point.

“The fact of the matter is when you apply the law, there are certain circumstances that actually come up and the legislature has to react immediately if we are going to have the consultation for the next one year and then we will have all these people released.”

He said such rationale was to keep offenders of serious crimes such as rape, aggravated robbery, murder and other sexual offences in prison for a minimum term to prohibit from committing further crimes.

“Non-parole periods are imposed on serious offenders for deterrence.”

Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula said the manner in which the Bill was enacted was unethical.

“We need to consult stakeholders because there are people that we need to listen to,” Mr Nawaikula said.

Opposition MP Mosese Bulitavu said the Bill prohibited prisoners from undergoing rehabilitation programs.

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