Concern regarding expedited passage of two Acts in Fiji

16 February 2021

The South Pacific Lawyers' Association (SPLA) notes the concern of Fiji Law Society regarding the decision by Fiji's Government to invoke expedited legislative procedure under Order 51 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders to introduce the High Court (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2021.[1] These Bills were passed in Parliament last Thursday 11 February 2021.


The implications of the legislation are potentially significant, particularly the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2021 which abolishes Fiji’s assessor system.


SPLA does not express an opinion on the merits of either Act. It does consider, however, that any proposal to effect such changes to fundamental features of Fiji’s criminal justice system must be carefully and thoroughly considered by Parliament following an open and meaningful public consultation process. The use of urgency to effect fundamental change to key aspects of the judicial system raises rule of law concerns. 


[1] Fiji Law Society Open Letter to the Attorney General and Members of Parliament, FLS calls on parliament to defer debate on Bill No. 1 of 2021 (Anti-Corruption Division) and Bill No. 2 of 2021 (Abolition of Assessors) and call for public consultation (Press Statement No.3 of 2021, 9 February 2021).

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