Get the Facts Right, Then Criticize

Additional comments on the draft Fiji Constitution 2013 released to the public by the Prime Minister Commodore Baninimara on 21 March 2013.

The draft 2013 Fiji Constitution released on March 21 by the Prime Minister has attracted much criticism, not all of it fair. There has been a lot of hoopla associated with the Bill of Rights (Chapter 2) provisions in the draft, for example the strident claims that they are not the same as the rights provisions in the 1997 Constitution or other constitutions. An interesting criticism is that the limitations to rights in the government’s 2013 draft are longer than the rights themselves; however, everyone should look at the limitations in the 1997 Constitution before coming to that conclusion.

In addition, these critics should carefully study the 1970 Constitution’s Fundamental Rights chapter (Chapter II) to note the limitations set out there. Even the right to life is limited in identical terms as in the government’s draft. A recent comment from one of the NGOs was that the ‘right to life’ should not be limited. If that were the case, a government could easily find it appropriate to prohibit the right to abortion. Even the UN”s Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains a blanket rights limitation- note Article 29. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Human Rights Committee do explain what these limitations mean.

In the fervour to protest against the government’s draft constitution people need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water!

Of course there are some serious deficiencies in the government’s draft, including in the Bill of Rights provisions, but rights limitation clauses are not the main problem. The main problem is that there is no definition of ‘human rights’ in the interpretation section of the Constitution and one has to rely on the definition provided in the Human Rights Commission Decree 2009 which is, of course, quite wrong.

There is a very good reason for convening a constituent assembly as promised and that is that some of the inconsistencies in the government’s draft can be discussed and ironed out. The public meetings that are being held currently by the government are not sufficient for the technical exercise that is required to draft a legally robust constitution for the future.

Dr Shaista Shameem
April 6 2013.


The Process is the problem said…
Ms Shameem
The process is the problem. A constitution pushed through using the force and intimidation of thugs with guns has no legitimacy or credibility and never will. It will always be challenged. As for 'immunity' for all those involved in treason and other terrible acts since Dec 5 2006. You have not mentioned this? Are you also trying to cover yourself?
The best way to end dictatorships is with the dictator in a ditch. No compromise, just the punishment they and their cowardly supporters deserve.
Joe said…
You and the likes are the problem, not the process. As for the immunity issue, you are being selective as there is no mention of 1987 events. So, did the 1990 constitution have legitimacy or credibility? Yes? Because the GCC approved it? In your opinion, how does 1990 compare with 2013? Did you read the heading of Dr Shameem's article? Here it is again, if you missed it somehow:


If your literacy level is in the way, just ask. Many on this blogsite will be happy to assist you understand the meaning of the caption. Have a nice day.

Listen to the illiterate goose said…
@Joe Thikwit Ramshit
Learn English you goose. The word is 'criticise' not 'critisize'. Now be a good girl, have a wash with soap and go back to school.
Joe said…
Is that the best you can do? pick on a typo? What about the points I raized? oops!!!! raised. Conveniently ignore them? Go back to C4.5, you will have excellent company there you moron.
Gatekeeper said…
The process is the problem? Well, it does not have much to commend it. But there is far more than the process to be concerned about. Do we know the meaning of the word 'repugnance'? Do we know the meaning of the word 'reparation'?

We ought to become familiar with both and soon. Be absolutely assured that we have a full and complete understanding. Because both are to be applied with regard to any constitution acceptable now. What empowers those who have seen fit to steamroll half a million people into poverty or near poverty to suggest that "All is well in the best of all possible worlds"? (Candide-Voltaire). A beleagured attempt to salvage their professional and personal reputations when they patently have none? Compulsion, repression, the alienation of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money into private hands, the creation of smokescreens such as the Foundation for Needy Children? These children are our children. They suffer because we made it so. It is repugnant. We shall make reparations for it and the world will belatedly come to see and demand that we do. We shall repair the pensioners' justly-applied incomes, we shall hold the indiscriminate purloining of public funds to proper account. We shall do so because it is just. We shall do so because we are citizens of a land which requires Justice. We shall do so to save our immortal souls and because Jesus Christ died on the Cross on Good Friday. We shall do so to repair our Moral Compass. The compass by which some of us fought for the limbless Children of Sierra Leone, to honour them.

What Constituent Assembly appointed by purloiners would serve any just purpose? Explain yourself. What is more, if you have no progeny to answer to in the future, by what God-given right do you have anything useful or of interest to add? Each and every dollar of public money alienated from public use is to be repaid, accounted for. Each lie and dissimulation to the people is to be dissolved by a Truth, Justice and Reparation Commission. That is how the country will be restored. It is now urgent.
Satendra Singh said…
I think 2013 Govt Draft is much better, just, fairer and equitable then all previous Fiji constitutions. Of course there are some important issues as highlighted by Crosbie and others including me that need to be fixed, like too much power in a few people(PM, AG, CJ.

But we must be honest and persuade the govt. via diplomacy and facts to correct them and not by simply rejecting it as the Old Politicians are trying to. They do not appreciate the good things in draft but simply want to reject all and go back to old racial and discriminatory style of politic of divide and rule by elites and chiefs.

Also, I like to bring clause 5 regarding Citizenship (dual/ multiple) held by Fijians living overseas. I find the mention of word "former Fijians" very discriminatory and should be deleted if the 2013 constitution is all removing all forms of discrimination then why discriminate between Fijians living in Fiji and overseas. We are should be all Fijians and equals as drafted in 2013 and one of the non-negotiables.

Below is a copy of my submission sent to the feedback of 2013 fiji draft:-

I submit that clause 5(3)(b) in respect of citizenship to be removed completely and just keep 5(3)(a) that is very clear on citizenship by birth remains unless renounced and regardless if foreign citizenship or multiple citizenship has been acquired. That is the birth right of every citizen and is consistent with the laws of NZ, Australia, UK and Canada)

Thus, clause 5(3) (b) is not needed at all as it creates confusion and ambiguity. Furthermore, since the new constitution is all about removing all types of discrimination so why is there discrimination about Fijians who live overseas by categorizing them as “former Fijians”.

This is a great insult to hundreds of thousands of Fijians who live overseas but are very proud to be Fijian and contribute enormously towards Fiji’s development and are true Fijians very much equal to those living in Fiji. As such all Fijians born in Fiji must be treated equally whether they live in Fiji or overseas, or whether they have dual or multiple citizenship. This is their birth right and nothing should take it away from them UNLESS they choose to renounce it willingly and voluntarily.

There should be no such mention as “lost citizenship” as citizenship by birth can never be cancelled or lost or revoked in any way, shape or form. It can ONLY be renounced and until it is renounced one remains a citizen of Fiji. This is exactly the law in USA, Canada, Australia, NZ and UK.

There can be no discriminatory effective date for Citizenship by birth BUT a consistent one that does not create divisions amongst Fijians. The new constitution of Fiji should be non-discriminatory, consistent, unambiguous and in line with the international norms.

Therefore, clause 5(b) should be deleted.

Further clauses to be inserted as follows:-

(1) Citizenship by birth can only be renounced by a written prescribed statutory form to be created by the government and to come in effect on the same day as the new constitution.

(2) Citizenship by registration will only apply to the children of Fiji citizens born in a foreign country and or their descendants that got citizenship of that country by birth and intend to acquire Fiji citizen.

Clause 5 (3) (b) as it is in the 2013 draft:-

a former citizen of Fiji, who lost that citizenship upon acquiring foreign citizenship, may regain citizenship of Fiji, while retaining that foreign citizenship unless the laws of that foreign country provide otherwise;

I URGE ALL FIJIANS LIVING OVERSEAS WITH FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP TO send a similar submission ASAP so that we can get rid of that clase and are treated as EQUALS whether we live in Fiji or Overseas.
Anonymous said…
She lives well; was a crucial player in the overthrow of democracy in 2006, then, when it was realised that she had created a nightmare, she moved to democratic New Zealand and a six figure salary.
Joe said…
Yeah right !!! Shoot the messenger when you have nothing constructive to contribute to the subject matter. Typical C4.5 mentality. Are you jealous of her being on a six figure salary? You could have been on a similar wicket had you not chosen to drink grog under mango trees.
Bill Carson said…
Spot On Joe.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Now vamoose illiterate Thickshit to C4.5 !!
Na sala ni wai du'a. said…
> when it was realised that she had created a nightmare, she moved to democratic New Zealand and a six figure salary.

Are you criticizing this move?

It sounds like a smart choice to me... one that I would make in an instant. Would you decline a 6 figure job offer in NZ?
Govind has a hissy fit said…
oh poor little govind girls have had a hissy fit? Foot washing too much for you? Harden up you little pussies and go clean some toilets.
Robby said…
Great vacation might be your dream. Travel to Bali is not always expensive as there are many international flights providing special rates for early bird booking. There are also many selection of Bali hotels offering special discount rates including Bali villas and budget Bali accommodation
Joe said…
Why dont you do the right thing and advertise your business in the appropriate place.

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons