NEWS

A-G Calls Out Fiji Law Society For Querying Speaker’s Decision

If approved, the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act will remove the use of assessors leaving the decision to be made by the judges themselves.
11 Feb 2021 14:32
A-G Calls Out Fiji Law Society For Querying Speaker’s Decision
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on February 10, 2021. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has called out the Fiji Law Society for saying there is serious failure on the leadership of the Speaker of Parliament and insinuating that he has done wrong.

The society released a statement on Tuesday questioning the urgency of the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the High Court (Amendment) Bill 2021, which were brought in Parliament under Standing Order 51. They were debated today.

The law society called on Government to defer the debate on the two bills and allow a proper public consultation process to take place.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said an inference that could be drawn was that in their earnestness to perhaps support the Opposition, the law society forgot the law.

“The law is according to the Standing Orders that the motion and the terms of conditions under Standing Order 51 is put forward by the person moving the motion not by the Speaker. And to say there is a serious failure on leadership is an assault on the Office of the Speaker,” he said.

“The law society has not only got the law wrong, but they have done a great injustice to the Speaker in insinuating that he has done something wrong, that he is the one who sets the one-hour debate time. It’s not the honourable Speaker whose done that, it’s the motion that’s put on the floor and it’s passed without any objection.”

On the day, he said the bills were presented there was no objections raised from the Opposition, adding that there was an entire session on assessors at the A-G’s conference in 2017 where close to 400 lawyers had attended.

“It would appear to me that they are playing politics because this is precisely the agenda that SODELPA and NFP were trying to highlight directly or indirectly questioning the leadership of the honourable Speaker.

“The question the public needs to ask, is the law society the mouthpiece of the Opposition or are they writing this open letter independently?”

The High Court (Amendment) Bill seeks to create a specialised division within the Fijian Judicial System that will deal solely with anti-corruption cases.

If approved, the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act will remove the use of assessors leaving the decision to be made by the judges themselves.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the use of assessors had led to several inconsistencies and they had noticed prejudice in sexual assault and rape cases.

Currently, there are only a handful of between 30 to 40 people who act as professional assessors.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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