Bill Of Rights In New Fiji Constitution To Be Tested n Court

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‘Right to Housing’ subject of case filed in High Court

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 8, 2013) – Fiji's new constitution - and the bill of rights contained in it - is set to be tested as a case was filed in the High Court in Suva last week over the right to housing.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama revealed this at the 15th Attorney General’s conference in Natadola, Sigatoka at the weekend.

"It has been brought to my attention that the first case concerning a socio-economic right under the Constitution - in this case the right to housing - was filed in the Suva High Court only a few days ago." Bainimarama said this is encouraging and the government looked forward to more Fijians seeking to enforce their socio-economic rights which will help in the development of jurisprudence in this area.

He said Fiji does not have a wealth of jurisprudence on socio-economic rights and needs to learn a lot from other jurisdictions.

"It’s clearly a totally new area of rights that are enforceable." Bainimarama said lawyers need to familiarize themselves not just with the provisions of socio-economic rights in Fiji’s new Constitution but with the associated jurisprudence as well.

He said the Bill of Rights also focuses on civil and political rights and there’s no doubt that civil-political rights are essential to ensuring the fundamental rights of every individual, including access to substantive justice.

"One of the great things about having these socio-economic rights included in the Bill of Rights is that it compels not just my government but any subsequent government to provide and protect them.

We have already started this in a major way by making education free in our primary and secondary schools and by way of a tertiary soft loan scheme," he added.

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