July 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Fiji's Police Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua is calling on members of the public to work within the confines of the law to ensure smooth transition towards the 2014 general elections.
The Fiji Police Force has set about putting in place a number of directives to ensure the smooth transition of Government’s plans and initiative for the holding of Parliamentary elections under a new Constitution in 2014.
After meeting the Solicitor General on Sunday, Naivalurua has stressed to his officers the need to create a conducive environment from now until the holding of the Parliamentary elections in 2014.
Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said this is particularly so after the suspension of Section 8 of the Public Order Act by the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree ("Decree").
Until such time when the Constitution Commission presents the draft Constitution to His Excellency the President, any person or group can have a meeting in a public place without having to obtain a permit.
However, a person or group seeks to hold meetings on public roads, public parks and sporting arena, as well those seeking to hold public processions and marches, will still be required to obtain a permit.
Naisoro said whilst the suspension of the permit requirement will further encourage free dialogue for the consultations on the drafting of the new Constitution.
The Fiji Police Force is hoping that persons and groups will not take undue and unfair advantage of the positive changes that have been made to the laws.
In this regard, the Fiji Police Force wishes to caution all persons and groups that in holding meetings, no one is permitted to engage in any act that constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.
These include the offence of disturbance in a public place, malicious acts, incitement to violence, disobedience of the law, racial/ethnic or religious vilification and undermining or sabotaging the economy or the financial integrity of Fiji.
The Fiji Police Force reminds all persons and groups that, under section 18(2) of the Decree, if a person or group is found to be engaging in any act that constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act, then any such person or group shall not be entitled to hold any further meeting without having to obtain a permit.
In this regard, the Fiji Police Force further informs members of the public that it continues to have the authority under section 9 of the Public Order Act to prohibit or to disperse any meetings if it is necessary for the securing of public safety or the maintenance of public order.
This is particularly relevant to those persons and groups that have in the past either been refused a permit, or who have breached the conditions of any permit, or who have on any previous occasion prejudiced peace, public safety and public order or engaged in racial or religious vilification.
“We are here to facilitate Government’s intent. Government has made a number of positive changes to the law that will further enhance freedom of consultations. All Fijians need to ensure that they continue to operate peacefully in accordance with the law”, said Naivalurua.
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