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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 14) – A coalition of nongovernmental organizations in Fiji want the government’s proposed "Tolerance, Reconciliation and Unity Bill" translated into Hindi and Fijian.

NGO Coalition on Human Rights spokesman Ponipate Ravula said many people were yet to read the Bill even as the Friday deadline for written submissions draws near.

"A lot of people have hardly seen the Bill, yet the submissions close this Friday. We have yet to see a Fijian translation of the Bill," Ravula said.

The coalition is made up of 15 non-government organizations with another three as observers.

Ravula said they supported calls for an extension to the deadline for submissions on the Bill.

He was reacting to comments by Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale, who said he would approach the parliament secretariat and the Justice, Law and Order committee to extend the deadline.

The NGOs asked for an extension when they met Bale to express their views on the Bill last Friday.

Ravula said they respected a decision by the Fiji Labour Party to boycott the committee. Labour parliamentarians walked out of the House during the second reading of the Bill by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on June 2.

The party then announced that it would not take part in the land, sugar and constitution committees.

Fiji Women's Rights Movement coordinator Virisila Buadromo said the timeframe for written submissions needed to be expanded.

She said the Government spent a year consulting the public on the Family Law Bill and the same should be done with this Bill.

June 15, 2005

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