PR01/2013

Friday January 18, 2013

PRESS RELEASE

The People's draft, a transparent and accountable Constituent Assembly – Critical for participatory democracy

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement is disappointed with the comments made by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr on Monday January 14th on the State's decision to reject Fiji's draft constitution. In an interview with Radio Australia, Carr said "he can understand why Fiji's interim government would reject aspects of the draft constitution".

"Carr's statements are disheartening because what he is telling Fijians is that he condones the oppressive action of an unelected few than support the views of 7000 men and women who made submissions between August and October 2012 before the Fiji Constitution Commission," said FWRM Executive Director Virisila Buadromo.

The Commission presented its draft to the interim President on Friday December 21.Twenty days later, the People's draft was rejected by the interim President Ratu EpeliI Nailatikau.

As a feminist organisation that worked alongside other non-governmental organisations and individuals for several months to encourage and empower a cross section of women and girls to make submissions, FWRM finds it unacceptable for the interim President to reject the People's draft before it was given to the Constituent Assembly for deliberation.

"The State's pursuit of transparency, accountability and democracy would have been better served if it was to have the People's chosen representatives' debate and amend the People's draft. The rejection of the People's draft sends the message that unelected people are making decisions for the rest of the general public in the new parliamentary system," said Buadromo.

"Any State purporting to act in the name of the people must demonstrate their genuine commitment by advocating for a constitution that broadly reflects the views of all the people of Fiji. The constitution must also be foundered on human rights principles, democracy and the rule of law," she said.

FWRM also demands the State to publicize the names of the 300 people who have expressed their interest to become members of the Constituent Assembly. The process, from application to selection must be transparent so that chosen representatives are accountable to all people of Fiji.

For information or queries please contact FWRM on 331 2711 / 8677330 or email

ENDS.