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Says everyone can apply for permit after PER lifted

By Losalini Rasoqosoqo and Arieta Vakasukawaqa SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Jan. 10, 2012) – In Fiji, leaders of groups that were banned from conducting certain meetings under the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) have been summoned to meet Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua today.

The meeting is scheduled to be held at the Nasova Police Academy in Suva this morning.

This was revealed to the Fiji Sun by police chief operations officer Senior Superintendent Henry Brown.

Police have called on organisations who were previously banned under the PER, including unions, to meet Brigadier-General Naivalurua in Nasova today.

There are no restrictions in place for organisations who wish to apply for a permit for public meetings and processions now that the PER have been lifted.

Under the Public Order Amendment Decree 2012 currently in place since the PER was lifted on January 7 all applications for a permit for public meetings and processions can be lodged at any community post and police stations at least seven days from the day of the event.

"There is no restriction at all to those who want to apply for a permit. Applications will be assessed case-by-case once they are lodged," SSP Brown said.

"The Commissioner has been given the power to grant permission thus he needs to make clear of the process and procedures in tomorrow’s (today) meeting according to the law, now that it has changed."

Yesterday, after meeting the Commissioner, the Methodist Church of Fiji was given the green light to apply for permits to conduct its church meetings. This is after a lapse of three years.

The church was banned from all its meetings sanctioned under its constitution following allegations that some church leaders had political motives.

Methodist Church of Fiji assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said they welcomed the decision.

"We’re thankful for the initiative by the Government in lifting the PER and giving us the right to hold our church meetings but we will need to apply for a permit.

"To hold our church meetings we need to apply for a permit which will be quite hard for us because there are about 2000 Methodist churches in the country which will need to apply for the permit.

"The agenda of the meeting will be attached with the permit forms that are going to be filled but the Methodist Church has always stuck to one agenda all along."

He said they hoped to finally conduct their meetings this year.

"If the permits are granted by the police then we’re hoping to hold our monthly, quarterly and annual meetings and the conference too.

"We have been told a permit is needed in any meeting they hold at the district, sector or divisional level," Reverend Nawadra said.

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