THE Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) says it will repeal the laws that criminalise the criticism of elected officials and civil servants if it wins the election next year.

SODELPA leader and former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka said this included Clause 24 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill, No. 28 of 2016.

Mr Rabuka said the Bill, which was yet to be enacted by Parliament, would limit freedom of expression.

“A SODELPA Government will repeal this draconian and anti- democratic muzzle on free speech,” he said.

“The essence of democracy is discourse and the free exchange of ideas. When dealing with the affairs of governance of the nation, if there is injustice or wastage of resources, the people of Fiji, who pay the taxes of elected officials and public servants, have every right to an opinion and to express that opinion.

“Criticism and feedback from the voters is not a reason to silence them and to put fear into the community.

“It is an opportunity to hear whether your policies are working or not, and to change course,” said Mr Rabuka.

The party had called for the removal of the clause from the Bill during its submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights in December last year.

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