17 March 2021 – For immediate release
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) is concerned with the processes undertaken by authorities on what was widely understood to be the Draft Police Bill.
The Hon. Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama in an interview given to Fiji Village today stated, “what was endorsed was consultation on the old Police Act 1965, not on a Draft Police Bill.”
CCF finds the PM’s statement contradictory to that of the official opening speech at the launch of the nationwide public consultation on the Draft Fiji Police Bill 2020 on 3 March 2021 by the Hon. Minister for Defense, National Security and Policing. Inia Seruiratu in his speech stated that, “the review of the Fiji Police Force primary legislation was part of Government’s priorities to be tabled in parliament this year.”
“Given that this important review is a Government priority, how are procedures and processes undertaken by those in power not followed?” said Chief Executive Officer Louchrisha Hussain.
According to PM’s recent statement in today’s Fiji Sun, “the Bill was released by police but not cleared by the Solicitor General nor brought to Cabinet for endorsement.” The PM adds, “It is standard practice that Government agencies consult within Government before seeking consultation from the public.”
Ms. Hussain says, “It is troubling to note the inconsistencies and directives issued by Government as this has caused confusion amongst the public and further resulted in wasted time and already scarce resources of citizens who planned to engage in these processes.”
CCF recognizes the important role international partners play locally, thus stressing the importance of proper scrutiny prior to any commitment of support. This ensures effective and efficient use of resources.
CCF calls on Government, respective ministries and parliamentary standing committees to allocate sufficient time and resources to ensure all citizens are informed and understand any Bill or legislation for the purposes of reviewing, prior to engaging in public consultations.
“It is important for all citizens to confidently engage in these processes and this can only happen if they are provided with information ahead of time, in a format they understand. This includes ensuring that information is translated in the vernaculars and presented in formats easily understood by all citizens” adds Ms. Hussain.
We remind Government of its role to ensure citizens make informed decisions and meaningfully participate in processes of decision making that affects the lives of all.