Fiji's Draft Rotuma Bill Opposed During Public Consultations

All laws of Fiji would apply to island whether Rotumas like it or not

By Matilda Simmons

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 1, 2016) – A group of professionals have spoken out against the draft Rotuma Bill which is in consultations process in Fiji.

Making submissions at the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs, the group representative Rosie Langi said the new Bill had clauses which could have Fiji Laws applied to Rotuma and the Government could have any say in the island's administration, including its territorial waters.

Referring to the draft Rotuma Bill No 6, Ms Langi highlighted that a whole Section 3 of the Rotuma Act was missing in the draft Bill which could have implications for the island.

"If you look at it in totality — in the current law there's a Section 3 which says the laws in Fiji will apply to Rotuma only if they are suitable and the inhabitants there permit. This is missing from Bill No 6. It means only one thing — all the laws in Fiji will apply to Rotuma, whether Rotumans like or not. I think this is serious," said Ms Langi, who is a lawyer by profession.

Ms Langi said if the Bills were amended, it would be a quick fix solution.

"You are simply giving credibility to the review committee that went around and never went back to the people. We have written a letter to the Attorney-General and the PM's office requesting them to withdraw the Bill.

"I've looked at your standing orders for the committee and it looks like you will recommend amendments. We are not after amendments. Simple as that," she said.

Ms Langi had led the group in a signed petition last year to stop the Bill from being tabled in Parliament after it was tabled by A-G to be passed in Parliament.

She called on the committee to have the Bill relooked and suggested that a wide consultation among professionals was needed.

Fiji Times Online.
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