Monday, May 20, 2013

Koyamaibole Takes on Fiji Sun on Illegal Regime's Stance on Taukei Land


Land Safe - Fiji Sun May 19, 2013

First, Mr Isireli Koyamaibole (left picture) is not the spokesman for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) on anything. He is merely speaking on his own accord.

Second, the security and the protection of the iTaukei land is properly entrenched in chapter 13-Group Rights, of the 1997 Constitution. Also entrenched are the Rotuman Land Act, the Banaban Land Act and the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (s.185) and other Acts.

Any move to make any alteration to these Acts of Parliament must fulfill the provisions clearly provided under this section.

Although the 1997 Constitution was abrogated by the illegal regime of Bainimarama, the Fiji Court of Appeal celebrated judgment on 9th April 2009 had declared the regime unlawful. Henceforth, that decision has not been repealed nor challenged by anyone up to now.

Third, a careful study and analysis of the Ghai Constitution Commission Draft Report 2012, will show very close resemblance of the protection of the indigenous land rights with that of the 1997 Constitution. Reference to Article 11- through to Article 17, particularly Article 17, clearly demonstrates the entrenched protection for the iTaukei land.

Compare these two (the 1997 Constitution and Ghai  Draft 2012) with the Regime’s Draft 2013, there is a conspicuous absence of any entrenched protection of iTaukei land  in the Regime’s Draft.

But Article 27 of the Regime’s Draft has been contemplated as the replacement provision for the protection of the iTaukei  land- as widely propagated by the illegal AG and his regime. A very general and non- specific provision amongst the Bill of Rights. 

The illegal Prime Minister should try to determine where in that article does it address the “mataqali” or group ownership of land which is customary among the iTaukei. In fact one cannot, because the article has to do with individual rights/ownership only. How can you therefore protect and safeguard iTaukei land when you have not made any specific provision under Group Rights as opposed to individual rights. Land is owned communally in Fijian society.

Fourth, the Regime’s Draft has also removed the provision for Customary Law and Customary Rights (s186) of the 1997 Constitution. So gone also are the recognition for customary law and customary rights that deals with the equitable share of royalties over fishing rights and mineral exploration from the land or seabed.

Illegal PM Voreqe Bainimarama may interpret his draft constitution  anyway he wants it, but what is clear to me is that, this is  not the way to achieve any political mileage or gain but to raise my strongest  objection on what the iTaukei or indigenous Fijian have lost when considering what each of the 1997 Constitution; the Ghai’s Draft, 2012; and the Regime’s  Draft 2013; had to offer.

Let me reiterate that there is no constitutional protection for any law on iTaukei land, Rotuman land and Banaban land under the Regime’s Draft. Therefore Article 157, on Procedure for Amendment, of the Regime’s Draft does not apply in this particular case. Specifically,the claim advanced by Bainimarama that the vote of three-quarters of the members of Parliament and the three-quarters majority in the referendum for all registered voters will not be required. 

In fact the entrenched protection for the key Acts namely iTaukei Lands Act, iTaukei Land Trust Act, Rotuman Lands Act, Banaban Lands act, and the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act, has been  effectively removed in the Regime’s Draft Constitution. 

There is absolutely nothing to hide nor anything sinister to propagate but one thing can be assured now is that these laws regarding indigenous lands can be amended by a simple majority in parliament. This is a major change in weakening the iTaukei land ownership and security in their own country.

I Koyamaibole


Click Links to Find Out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

also removed from the 1997 Constitution is the obligation on government to make laws for the equitable sharing of mining royalties with the indigenous land owners.