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Guilt, Innocence Should Not Be Determined By Ethnicity: A-G

In the modern day world, a person’s guilt or innocence should not be determined by assessors who are going to look at a person on an ethnic basis, nor should a judge,” he said, adding that it leads to stereotype and it was wrong for an officer of the court to be even insinuating it.
12 Feb 2021 14:37
Guilt, Innocence Should Not Be Determined By Ethnicity: A-G
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Photo: Ronald Kumar

A person’s guilt or innocence should not be determined by ethnicity, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, speaking on the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2021.

The Bill was passed yesterday in Parliament and would remove the use of assessors during trial, leaving the decision to be made by the judges themselves.

SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula opposed the bill and questioned why the assessor system, which has been in existence for 125 years, was being removed.

He said the assessors system is in place for people of different ethnicity and it’s wrong to abolish it entirely.

In his right of reply, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Mr Nawaikula cannot extricate himself from ethnic thinking in saying that the colonial system should be continued.

“In the modern day world, a person’s guilt or innocence should not be determined by assessors who are going to look at a person on an ethnic basis, nor should a judge,” he said, adding that it leads to stereotype and it was wrong for an officer of the court to be even insinuating it.

National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad said the Bill should be put to the standing committee and instead of abolishing the assessor system, it should be strengthened.

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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