Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Village Bylaws Debate

by Verenaisi Raicola

Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
Roko Tui Ba Ratu Sireli Vesikula said while some villagers supported the draft village bylaws proposed by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, he cautioned them not to apply the penalties as they had not been legalised.
Ratu Sireli has however suggested that all disciplinary issues villagers presently faced or had to deal with should be referred to police.
Ratu Sireli said some villagers agreed to promote the draft village bylaws to encourage discipline in some areas of village life that seemed to be deteriorating.
"I am telling the villagers to be careful because they have no authority to apply the penalties," he said.
Ratu Sireli said what was important was for villagers to improve on their behavior.
"Things like being drunk and disorderly, turning the volume of music high and wearing nonrespectable clothes in the village needed to be discouraged," he said.
Ratu Sireli said overall, there is a need for some form of order in village settings.
He said homes in some villages were constructed too close to one another.
The proposed draft village bylaws states that there should be a space of 12 metres between homes. All homes should contain a sleeping space, bathroom, toilet and a kitchen.
The law also prohibits smoking in any village public places.
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the village bylaws was not law so the village elders and turaga-ni-koro were prohibited from exercising it.
He said the turaga-ni-koro who were 'disciplining' villagers were effectively commiting assault.
They have been charged and will face the full brunt of the law, Inspector Sokomuri said.

State halt of bylaws good

Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
THE Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) welcomes the suspension of the proposed village bylaws by the state.
CCF chief executive officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki said they were informed at a meeting by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs last week that Cabinet had decided to suspend the implementation of village bylaws pending further wider consultation with stakeholders.
"This government move will receive wide support from civil society organisations (CSOs, particularly because the village bylaws was incompatible with United Nations Conventions on Human Rights which Fiji has ratified," Mr Yabaki said.
In a letter signed by Mr Yabaki and addressed to deputy permanent secretary Indigenous Affairs Department Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga last year, CCF shared its fears and reservations about the draft bylaws.
Mr Yabaki said some villages, according to media reports, had already embarked on the implemention of the said bylaws; offenders of the bylaws are actually punished.
"CCF believes that the goal of national unity compels us to move away from racial or communal approaches."

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