FIJI CABINET ENDORSES INCREASED CRIMINAL PENALTIES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 14 1999 - PACNEWS)---Fiji’s Cabinet has endorsed changes to the Penal Code for crimes against places of worship, following an increase in the recent number of attacks at religious sites.

The amendment now makes the offense of insult of religion a felony instead of a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty has been increased to 14 years imprisonment.

Other Penal Code amendments include that of "oppressive selling," targeting sword sellers who hassle tourists.

The Cabinet said a person could be charged for oppressive selling for exerting unreasonable pressure when offering goods for sale. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year.

Begging now also has now been classed as a punishable offense. This follows an increase in the number of people begging on the streets of Fiji’s capital, Suva, in recent years. Under the new changes, police will be given powers to arrest beggars.

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