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NGO Coalition Concerned Over Constitutional Process

NGO Coalition on Human Rights Concerned Over Constitutional Process

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is concerned at the extreme measures the interim administration is taking to pressure the constitutional process.

The recent Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Amendment Decree 2012 (Decree No.64 of 2012) “undermines the whole constitutional process,” says Shamima Ali, chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights.

“The decree itself is draconian and oppressive in its application, and restricts individuals from freely expressing their opinion about the regime’s non-negotiable principles,” says Ali.

“The regime has produced a set of so-called non-negotiable principles. But you can still have an opinion, for or against those principles, when you make a submission or when you talk about the constitution.”

“This is totally contradictory to what Bainimarama has constantly proclaimed this process to be- free, transparent and for the people.”

Ali recalled that, at the start of the process Bainimarama had called on the people of Fiji to freely participate in the constitutional process and have their views heard by the Constitution Commission.

- On 11 May 2012, Bainimarama had said: “You must all come forward and voice whatever you want to be included in the new Constitution…Irrespective of our individual backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions, we must work together to make the new Constitution the best ever.”

- In a newspaper article published on 16 July 2012, Bainimarama urged the people to “speak from the heart, no submission is too small and no subject is irrelevant”.

- On 18 August 2012, the Commander further commented that “it is only through the participation of all in a public forum that the Constitution can truly be said to be OF the people...each submission is one brushstroke in what will eventually be the completed painting. Your unique insight is essential to ensure that we achieve the best results possible. You must be a part of the process, and your views must inform the finished product”.

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights asks why, then, the interim administration has gone to such lengths to silence the people on issues that should be debated and determined by a public forum, where proper consultations could happen.

“The NGO Coalition calls upon the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces to adhere to his words to allow a free and fair constitutional process and for a Constitution that is “best” for the people, as he said. It has to take into account the essence of what people say and be in accordance with human rights principles to allow the Constitution Commission to freely carry out its work without any interference,” says Ali.


ANNEX

PM: Be part of process

“Each and every Fijian has something of value to contribute to the commission, through her or his unique experience and individual knowledge,” he said.

“They must no longer, you must no longer, remain silent.

http://www.fijisun.com.fj/2012/08/17/pm-be-part-of-process-2/

Participate in reforms: PM tells accountants

“Indeed it is obvious that some accountants, and I should not forget some lawyers, engineers and other professionals, actually are the movers and shakers, but, behind the scenes. They are what I call the ‘silent elites’.”

Commodore Bainimarama stressed every Fijian has something valuable to contribute to the Constitution Commission, through his or her unique experience and individual knowledge.

“They must no longer; you must no longer, remain silent,” he said.

“It is only through the participation of all in a public forum that the Constitution can truly be said to be OF the people.

“Each submission is one brushstroke in what will eventually be the completed painting,” he said.

“Your unique insight is essential to ensure that we achieve the best results possible. You must be a part of the process, and your views must inform the finished product,” he said.

http://www.fijisun.com.fj/2012/08/18/participate-in-reforms-pm-tells-accountants/

Challenge for bean counters "Or, to be frank, they have put forward their agendas through the mouths of others, and have not come forward themselves. Indeed it is obvious that some accountants, and I should not forget some lawyers, engineers and other professionals, actually are the movers and shakers, but, behind the scenes they are what I call the 'silent elites'."

The PM said it was only through the participation of all in a public forum that the constitution could truly be said to be of the people.

"Your unique insight is essential to ensure that we achieve the best results possible. You must be a part of the process, and your views must form the finished product," Commodore Bainimarama told the accountants.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=209783

Constitution best ever: PM

“You must all come forward and voice whatever you want to be included in the new Constitution,” the Prime Minister said.

“Irrespective of our individual backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions, we must work together to make the new Constitution the best ever.”

“I told him (Professor Ghai) that they must be in touch with all the people and the Government would help them on this.”

“People should come forward without fear to make oral or written submissions.”

http://www.fijisun.com.fj/2012/05/11/constitution-best-ever-pm/PM warns politicians

“We are all Fijians and all policies must be inclusive.”

http://www.fijisun.com.fj/2012/05/12/pm-warns-politicians/

Make your submission: PM

“Although you can make group submissions, I encourage you to speak as individual. Tell the commission what is important to you and what values and principles you want your government to adhere."

"This is an important right and responsibility of all Fijians. In order to vote in the 2014 elections, you must be registered," he said "Speak from the heart, no submission is too small and no subject is irrelevant."

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=206638

Children under 18 ‘still count’

“The upcoming constitutional consultations will benefit from the more Fijians of all ages who participate in the process and discuss the lessons that you learned in school with your families,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“We need every Fijian, including our youth to take ownership of the future of our country and this way we will control our destiny and ensure that the values and principles that are important to us are protected and passed down to new generations,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

http://www.fijisun.com.fj/2012/07/17/children-under-18-%E2%80%98still-count%E2%80%99/

Be heard!

NO Fijian should think that they do not have anything of value to contribute to the Constitution

"It is an investment in your future, the future of Fiji," Commodore Bainimarama said.

"It is critical that you participate in both to make your individual voice heard as we work to establish the foundation for the future of Fiji," Commodore Bainimarama urged.

"I understand that it is easy to say not today, maybe tomorrow. Or that it is easy to think someone else will represent my views for me," he said.

Commodore Bainimarama says the consultation process is guided by universally recognised principles and values which are non-negotiable, and includes: a common and equal citizenry; a secular state; the removal of systemic corruption; an independent judiciary; elimination of discrimination; good and transparent governance; social justice; one person, one vote, one value; the elimination of ethnic voting; proportional representation; and a voting age of 18

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=208684

"BE FORWARD LOOKING IN YOUR SUBMISSION" - PM

"Everyone in this country is free to make their submissions, including political parties and NGOs. We can’t and won’t stop people from having their say...”

http://www.fiji.gov.fj/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6676:qbe-forward-looking-in-your-submissionq-pm&catid=71:press-releases&Itemid=155

ENDS


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