FIJI EMERGENCY PLAN TOO DRACONIAN: CHAUDHRY

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SUVA, Fiji (July 7, 1998 - Fiji Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's Emergency Powers Bill 1998 is draconian and should not be entertained at all, Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry warned yesterday. And he indicated that his party would oppose the bill vigorously when it comes before Parliament today.

The Fiji government is introducing the emergency power bill which, if enacted, will empower the President to declare a state of emergency.

Under its provisions, cabinet may advise the President to proclaim a state of emergency, if it is satisfied that a public emergency has arisen as a result of, for example, an invasion or natural disaster, and that, through the action of a group of people, public safety is endangered, essential supplies of services to the community are deprived, the national economy is harmed and the security of the state is threatened.

If enacted, cabinet can make regulations relating to the state of emergency which could see the eviction of the people from their homes to help police or military operations.

The bill gives the police and military powers to enter and search premises, temporarily acquire land, buildings, vehicles, ships and aircraft, and harvest crops.

Under the bill cabinet can censor, control and suppress publications, arrest, detain and deport people.

It can mobilize the disciplined forces, direct their deployment and prohibit meetings and public gatherings.

The bill provides for the arrest, trial and punishment of anyone who contravenes the regulations and empowers specified people to make orders and rules.

On the protection of the economy, the bill allows the arrest of a person or persons who prevent or hinder the orderly planting, growing and harvesting of cane, the transport of cane to a mill, the crushing of cane and the making of sugar at a mill.

Anyone found guilty of harming or likely to harm the sugar industry commits an offense under the emergency bill and is liable on conviction to a fine of $20,000 and to imprisonment for 14 years.

For that matter, any person or persons who does any act which harms or is intended to harm the operation of a major industry, thus the economic life of the state, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine of $20,000 and to imprisonment of 14 years.

Any person who counsels, incites or procures another person to commit an offense, commits an offense under the bill and is liable on conviction to a fine of $10,000 and to imprisonment for seven years.

Trade unions, political parties and industrial associations are liable under the same provisions.

Title -- 1529 POLITICS: Fiji draft emergency law 'too draconian' Date -- 7 July 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 7/7/98 Copyright - Daily Post Status – Unabridged

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