Fiji Law Society Seeks Clause Amendment

Ms Vaurasi added there was a need to be a time frame in place when someone was lodging a complaint with the commission responsible for the Code of Conduct.
07 Feb 2019 15:47
Fiji Law Society Seeks Clause Amendment
Fiji Law Society President Laurel Vaurasi during Fiji Law Society's registration of Sex offenders Bill on April 6,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

The Fiji Law Society (FLS) has called for an amendment to Part 4, clause 10, sub-section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bill, which requires that the commission must neither accept nor investigate any complaint from an anonymous person.

FLS President Laurel Vaurasi made the comment while presenting the society’s submissions before the standing committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights on the Code of Conduct Bill, Bill No. 33 of 2018.

Part 4 of the Bill states that anonymous complaints should not be entertained.

“We have suggested that we need to amend the Bill to state that the commission must accept and investigate any complaint that comes from an anonymous person, provided that there is compelling evidence, or give the commission the following powers such as if the complaint is supported by evidence,” Ms Vaurasi said.

“They must investigate it and if it is not supported by evidence they must have the discretion to decide whether any anonymous complaint should be investigated or not.

“The reason we believe that this is very important is that there are times we are complaining and the complaint will be lodged against public officials and it can be against the President or the Prime Minister.

“Any normal person who is going to lodge a complaint that this is not something taken lightly and you need to be brave to come and state that this public official stole this money or there was bribery involved or whatever discretion.

“If you are going to use the anonymous clause then at the end of the day there may be some genuine cases, but people may not have the courage to complain.”

Define or delete

Ms Vaurasi said the words mali- cious and politically motivated in Part 4, clause 12 (1) and sub-section b should be defined or removed.

“Part 4, clause 12 (1) and sub- section states that the commission must investigate any complaint it receives, unless the commission is of the opinion that ‘the complaint is malicious or is politically motivated or is made for the purpose of discrediting, defaming, or causing reputational damage to the person, the subject of the complaint’. In this regard we specifically ask that the words malicious and politically motivated be defined or deleted completely,” she said.

“For something as big as malicious or politically motivated there have to be some guidelines for the commission to follow as to what is political motivation.
“With regards to this complaint of malicious or politically motivated, which is seen throughout the Code of Conduct, there is no definition for it and we are recommending that this be either deleted or must be a definition to it.”

Ms Vaurasi added there was a need to be a time frame in place when someone was lodging a complaint with the commission responsible for the Code of Conduct.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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