Kiribati MPs Pass Bill To Annul Parliamentary Privilege

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New law could have considerable impact on free speech

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 21, 2013) – MPs in Kiribati have passed a government bill to remove parliamentary privilege.

A staff member of the parliamentary council says the new law will mean MPs may be sued for anything they say in parliament.

Annell Husband reports.

"Kirata Komwenga says the bill was introduced in April but would not comment on its relationship to a dispute centred on parliamentary privilege between the Kiribati president, Anote Tong and an MP. He says a simple majority of MPs voted in favour of the bill on its first reading but it received a two-thirds majority on its second and final reading. Mr. Komwenga says Mr. Tong is expected to sign the bill into law sometime after the conclusion of the current parliament on August the 30th. He says the new law puts Kiribati in quite an interesting position and could have a considerable impact on freedom of speech. Mr. Komwenga says MPs will not be able to express what they want to say and will be more cautious in their speech."

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