NEWS

Row Breaks Out Over Draft Village By-law

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and iTaukei Affairs Board have hit back at Shamima Ali for her criticism of the draft village by-law. They say the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre
21 Jan 2017 12:00
Row Breaks Out Over Draft Village By-law
Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Naipote Katonitabua

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and iTaukei Affairs Board have hit back at Shamima Ali for her criticism of the draft village by-law.

They say the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Co-ordinator’s comments were inappropriate.

Ms Ali says the by-law was a contradiction to the Constitution.

Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs, Naipote Katonitabua, said: “With due respect, we find their comments inappropriate and premature as we are still conducting our consultation process and receiving submissions from the 14 Provinces around Fiji.

“From their comments we can assume that they don’t understand the purpose, objective and background information of why the Ministry and Board have proposed the Village By – Law in the first place.”

Ms Ali said there needed to be more discussions with leaders and various stakeholders.

FWCC will be conducting a Forum in March to discuss the issue by bringing in an expert in the field of colonialism, involving non-government organisations, the i-Taukei Affairs ministry, women and youth groups.

“The by-law is nothing new, it’s been here since the 1980’s and there was lobby against it in 2009 and there was a submission made and it was suspended by Government,” said Ms Ali.

Ms Ali said the reason it had appeared again might have to do with the changing times and traditions within our communities.

“We don’t believe there should be two sets of laws for one people,” she said.

Ms Ali said “we have our multi-ethnic community and there is the rule of law and the same laws should apply to everyone.”

“The question is why is the indigenous population being segregated and why is there two sets of laws,” said Ms Ali.

She said the by-law gave too much power to people who were not in a position to be able to exercise that power. She said there could be bias and there were a lot of  loopholes.

“We also fear for young people and women of what it does to them and how they’re going to react.”

She said there had been a lot of discussion with young people on the matter and some had been seeking the centre on how they could respond to the issue.

“We are concerned with everything on the draft village by-laws and especially on the unreasonable demand on young people to get a house and farm,” she said

“There needs to be a general discussion with the general population and not just a particular group of people, the village by-law should be about the best interest for everybody,” she said.

Ms Ali said the Government needed to seriously look at the by-law and get rid of it and more discussion should be done among the leaders.

She said if implemented it would lead to a big urban drift, more crimes, unemployment, and more informal settlement in the long term.

Edited by Maraia Vula

Feedback:  mere.satakala@fijisun.com.fj

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