News and Comments Thursday 25 October 2012
PEACEKEEPERS' SUBMISSION. The submission by Fiji's Peacekeeping Veterans Group (PVG) to the Constitution Commission last week called for compulsory military training for men and women from all races aged between of 18 and 21. PVG co-ordinator Taniela Senikuta said military recruitment would help youths build their character, become disciplined and help curb crime. The next item suggests that this is not necessarily so.
EXCESSIVE FORCE. There has been no further statement from the police concerning the escaped prisoners who robbed the Bank of the South Pacific in Nabua, Suva, and were subsequently arrested by a combined police and army team. The prisoners are reported to have resisted arrest. All were severely beaten and were hospitalised for a week. One of them has since had his leg amputated.
I find it incredible that police and army did not immediately condemn the excessive use of force and say that those responsible would be appearing before disciplinary committees. The police have now said there will be no further comment while the amputee remains in hospital. Whatever the actions of the prisoners, the public —and the prisoners—have the right to expect the police and army to use the minimum necessary force. In this instance, they have clearly used excessive force. The officers responsible should be brought before the courts and dismissed. Not to do so will will further tarnish the reputation of both services and, by implication, the good name of Government.
ROTUMANS WANT RECOGNITION. Rotuman Chiefs and the Rotuma Council want their people to be expressly acknowledged as an indigenous people of Fiji under the new Constitution. In their submissions to the commission, the council said the rights, aspirations and interests of all Rotumans should be recognised in the new constitution.
Misau Fatiaki, who submitted on behalf of the council, said there should be constitutional arrangements under which all matters relating to or affecting the lands and seas of Rotumans are approved by the council."That our uniqueness be reflected in the allocation of representation to both houses of parliament," Mr Fatiaki said.
The council also proposed the establishment of a court system on Rotuma.
Mr Fatiaki expressed the council's views on the 1997 Constitution, saying some provisions in it were worthy of consideration.
* Fiji's unique history and the great deeds of their forefathers, particularly in their embracing the Judeo-Christian God as the God of the country;
* The role of the Great Council of Chiefs in blessing the constitution in "their abundant wisdom", that Fiji is a sovereign democratic State and that the constitution is the supreme law of the State;
* Those entrusted with the government must recognise the importance of applying the spirit of the constitution rather than glibly applying imperial concepts applicable in other democratic societies; and
* The Bill of Rights.
Mr Fatiaki said the chiefs did not agree with Section 38 (2) (a) of the 1997 Constitution, that the provision on sexual orientation was inconsistent with the Preamble and one that would nurture undesirable, unnatural and immoral practices.