Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill
Taken from/By: FBC News
Report by: Ritika Pratap
Fiji Human Rights Commission chair Ashwin Raj says a clear distinction needs to be made between statements made in relation to an individual’s dignity and those that might harm the nation at large during Parliament sittings.
He made the comments while giving submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights
Raj says there also needs to be a very clear, transparent and consistent tests developed to examine statements that are considered to have the effect of “defaming”, “demeaning” or “undermining” the institution of Parliament, the Speaker or its committees.
He adds, furthermore, the principle of equality before the law means that the laws pertaining to defamation, freedom of expression and the right to reputation should apply consistently to all in Parliament regardless of their status.
Whistleblowers also need to be protected with the submission requesting greater discussion about the scope and the intent of clause 24.
He says it is essential to strike a balance between the conflicting legitimate interests involved between freedom of expression and protection of reputation and to determine what legal standards should be applied.
This he says would ensure protection of fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed not only under the Fijian Constitution but international law.
Raj says one of the fundamental questions that needs to be asked is who will enforce bill, and which authority between the Parliament and Court would decide on the conviction.
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