FIJI NEWS

A-G defends Domestic Violence Decree

Written By : SERA JANINE. The decision to enact the Domestic Violence Decree is a progressive move by the Bainimarama Government as part of its reform agenda, says Attorney-General Aiyaz
15 Sep 2009 12:00

Written By : SERA JANINE. The decision to enact the Domestic Violence Decree is a progressive move by the Bainimarama Government as part of its reform agenda, says Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
He made the comment after severe criticism from a women’s group in the manner in which it was enacted.
“The Decree will allow for greater protection for women and children and shall give women greater access to justice,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“The prevention of domestic violence also has a positive impact on productivity and efficiency in our society.
“It also inculcates the principles and practice of tolerance, understanding, respect, fair play, and gender equality; all of which are objectives of the Bainimarama Government,” he added.
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali in reaction to the drawing up of the decree said there was a lack of consultation before its implementation.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said her criticism was politically motivated.
“It is most regretful that a person who purportedly champions the cause of women’s rights should now denigrate the actions of government in implementing a law which will address the issue of domestic violence,” he said.
He revealed Ms Ali was also involved in the consultation process that led to the finalisation of the law.
“Ms Ali was part of the group of stakeholders consulted by the Fiji Law Reform Commission in 2004 along with such groups as UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDP, UNICEF, the Salvation Army, the Fiji Council of Churches.
“And many others from civil society and government,” he said.
“In addition to these extensive consultations, meetings were held with community representatives around the country,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added.
The Domestic Violence Decree was approved by Cabinet in July this year and will create a new offence of domestic violence defined under the Decree as any act of violence committed in a family situation.
The definition includes acts committed in a family situation and includes those committed in a de facto relationship and any violence committed on children.
Courts will also be given a wide discretion to prevent domestic violence, to take into account the “domestic” nature of an assault in granting or refusing bail, and to make restraining orders against the perpetrator to prevent further assault.
The Decree also gives the Police certain powers to prevent domestic violence.
Claims by Ms Ali that the move to empower women is a whitewash by the Government to get women on side were dismissed by the Attorney-General as absurd and nonsensical.
“The overwhelming response by the public to the enactment of the Domestic Violence Decree has been extremely positive,” Mr Sayed Khaiyum said.
“The Government will work together with all genuine stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of this groundbreaking Decree,” he said.



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