Academic: Election Decree Contains Some ‘Concerning Factors’

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Ratuva says civil society groups may be barred from participation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 29, 2014) – An academic says Fiji's new electoral decree is largely fair, and compares to those of Australia and New Zealand, but it does contain some concerning factors.

Auckland University's Dr Steven Ratuva says a clause stating that organisations which receive aid from foreign sources are banned from participating in any-election related activity is particularly concerning.

He says this means a lot of civil society groups cannot participate, and that outspoken organisations like Akuila Yabaki's Citizen's Constitutional Forum now face massive fines or up to 10 years in prison for speaking out.

"The citizen's constitutional forum, whose fundamental aim is to engage in dialogue towards building a democratic society - an election is very much part of the kind of work they deal with. I mean, the CCF has been under a lot of political pressure in place, the pressure's going to be much more," says Ratuva.

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