Ministry of Information "Fact Sheet" on Draft Constitution
FACT SHEET: FIJI’S NEW CONSTITUTION
People should judge the new draft constitution on its merits. People who believe in efficient, transparent and honest government, equality under the law, individual liberty, and guarantees against state power will find much to admire in it.
The draft contains many of the positive elements of the draft developed by the commission chaired by Yash Ghai, but it is more succinct and leaves decisions to the discretion of an elected Parliament.
The new draft was required to ensure that Fiji had a forward-looking constitution that advanced the fundamental principles of parliamentary representation and efficient and transparent government.
The provision allowing change by popular referendum will enable the constitution to stand the test of time.
It also contains provisions to guarantee transparency, promote prosperity, inhibit corruption in Government and protect human, civil, political and socio-economic rights. It will be the centrepiece of a cleaner, fairer political system.
· It gives sovereign control to a single house in a 45-member Parliament directly elected by the people for four-year terms. With a smaller Parliament, Members will be better compensated, which should reduce temptations for corruption and entice highly qualified individuals to stand.
· It establishes a multi-member open list system of proportional representation for the election of Members of Parliament. This will give women and the youth more opportunities to be elected.
· It divides the total number of members in Parliament between 4 electoral divisions.
· It is the first Fijian constitution to provide for a wide range of socio-economic rights, including rights to housing and sanitation, reasonable access to transportation, adequate food and water and social security schemes. It is also the first Fijian constitution to give specific rights to persons with disabilities and to children.
· It provides for civil and political rights.
· It creates a secular state that will allow all Fijians to practice their own faiths without fear of persecution.
· It strengthens the independence of the Judiciary, allowing the judiciary to control its own budget and finances as approved by Parliament.
· It gives Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions control of their own affairs.
· It creates a Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission to give protection to all citizens, irrespective of their backgrounds or socio-economic status.
· It creates a truly independent Electoral Commission with appropriate powers.
· For the first time in Fiji’s history, it gives the people the right to change the constitution via a referendum.