BY LEGAL TEAM
In April 2016, the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum launched its latest publication Your Guide to the Fiji Constitution: Our Nation Our Rights. Intended as an advocacy resource tool for CCF’s Community Education Team, the Guide is now used and distributed to the masses during outreach and awareness programs around Fiji. CCF has already distributed the Guide to its partners, networks, academic institutions, and schools, leaders, security and service providers.
A 2014 CCF led research report explored and documented citizen’s perceptions and sense of ownership of the Constitution. 75% of the participants responded saying that they knew “something” about the Constitutions. This knowledge was not acquired from reading the Constitution as 64% of participants had not read it. The reasons for partial to zero attempts at reading the legal document were vast. Not having a copy, disinterest in politics, perceptions around its ‘illegal’ status and the legal language disconnected the supreme law from its citizens.
Since 2014 CCF’s Legal Team began work on the simplification of the Constitution’s language with the help of experts in politics and development, language, and constitutional law. Simplicity in language, attractive illustrations, and demystification of concepts in FAQs, invites a reader to understand the Fijian Constitution easily. Feedback from the community confirms the success of the booklet thus far.
Apart from CCF’s continuing advocacy for effective constitutional processes, and calling for a reform of certain inconsistencies between the Constitution and international law and standards as well as the implementation of comparative and fundamental best practices, we believe this Guide to the Constitution is a step forward for ongoing advocacy, public dialogue and debate. This is CCF’s contribution to the full realization of active citizenry and strengthening Fiji’s progression into a modern and healthy democracy that respects the supreme law.
We acknowledge the project’s donor Australian Volunteer International (AVI), Professor Vijay Naidu as a Peer Reviewer, Editor Richard Naidu for, Illustrator Albert Rounds, our AVI friend and Graphic Designer Kelly Rowe, and our hard working CCF Staff.