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Draft Police Bill is draconian – Fiji Opposition leader Gavoka
02:01 am GMT+12, 08/03/2021, Fiji

Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Viliame Gavoka has called on Fijians not to allow legal drafters to think that we are content with authoritarian rule.
 
Gavoka said the draft Police Bill 2020 was “draconian” and should raise an alarm to all right-thinking citizens because it encroaches into civil liberties, democratic values and fundamental rights of our people
 
“Fijians have endured too much. Fijians thrown off bridges, stripped naked and tortured, stripped off our rights as Fijians,” he said.
 
In a statement, he said the draft Bill should not even be allowed to reach the floor of Parliament, let alone via Standing Order 51.
 
“And we now chastise Government if they are considering it as an option. It must stop.”
 
Gavoka said the party would also submit a petition in Parliament to direct the Minister for Defence to cease and shelve this “draconian” draft Bill.
 
“Government should instead focus on restoring the trust and confidence of our people on police and disciplined forces.
 
“As a political party in Fiji, we would urge our development partners not to participate in this exercise. You cannot endorse a draft Bill that infringes people’s civil liberties and human rights and the basic tenet of democracy, particularly for a country with a history of political instability, abuse of power, violation of human rights, and lack of checks and balances.”
 
SODELPA Party member and Opposition spokeswoman on Justice, Elections and iTaukei Affairs, Adi Litia Qionibaravi says it will be a dark day if the draft Fiji Police Bill is enacted in its current draconian form.  
 
In a statement Friday she expressed her disappointment at the sudden springing of the Bill into the public domain without notice.
 
“It is unclear whether the ministry undertook consultations with stakeholders before it was published, or whether the Bill was drafted in a vacuum without input from human rights, civil liberties and policing experts,” she said.
 
“The provisions of the Bill are oppressive and more suited to a totalitarian or fascist dictatorship, and its enactment will bring a dark future for the nation.”
 
Adi Litia claimed Government was using the Police Bill and the Election-related Bills to feel secure about the coming 2022 general elections.
 
“This Bill, along with the three Election-related Bills currently undergoing ‘consultation, simply confirm that the FijiFirst Government is very worried and needs these laws to feel secure about the coming 2022 elections,” she said.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS


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