2013 Constitution – Not a unifying document, claims Chaudhry

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: FT FILE/JOVESA NAISUA

FIJI Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the “imposed” 2013 Constitution was not a unifying document as claimed by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in his address to the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last week.

“On the contrary, the Constitution is an imposition against the will of the people, decreed by a military-backed government,” Mr Chaudhry claimed in a statement issued last week Wednesday.

“It was specifically crafted to retain power in the hands of the Bainimarama regime,” he claimed.

Mr Chaudhry claimed the 2013 Constitution had also been “roundly condemned” by a working committee of the UNHRC which examined it in 2014.

He claimed the constitution restricted the civil and political rights of citizens and targeted political opponents and trade union officials.

“Many of its Bill of Rights provisions are subject to restrictions imposed through decrees which render them meaningless,” he claimed.

“The imposed Constitution grants unqualified immunity from prosecution to coup leaders, including Bainimarama, who are responsible for unleashing a culture of disrespect for the rule of law and human rights.

“Among other major flaws, it does not provide for separation of powers between the different arms of the State,” he claimed.

Mr Chaudhry said because the 2013 Constitution had not been tabled in Parliament for ratification, it remained a document that had not been endorsed by the people.

Questions sent to the Prime Minister for comment on March 1 and again on Saturday March 2 remain unanswered

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