AG subverting parliamentary democracy

AG SUBVERTING PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY – HON LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION CALLS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF THE AG

The Leader calls on the Attorney General to resign as he has subverted (again) the role and powers of the Speaker of Parliament and parliamentary democracy by ordering the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to stop looking into allegations of torture raised by lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh in the foreign media.

The Committee was meeting for the 2nd day today in Parliament following a letter from Committee Member and Opposition Parliamentarian Honourable Roko Tupou Draunidalo.

Committee Chairman Honourable Colonel Netani Rika decided to bring the meeting to an abrupt end before midday today. He told the Members that the Attorney General had called him to stop the meeting saying the Committee did not have parliamentary authority or approval to meet and furthermore that Aman Ravindra Singh had not filed a complaint with police regarding the torture allegations.

Both Opposition Members on the Committee Hon. Draunidalo and Hon Ratu Isoa Tikoca opposed this premature termination of the meeting informing Colonel Rika that the meeting was taking place under the authority of the Speaker who is the overall and sole authority of Parliament – not the Attorney General or any other Member of the Executive which is the Government.

The bipartisan committee adjourned their meeting and the Opposition Members asked the Chairman for clarification and direction from the Speaker and Secretary General to parliament.

Through his interference, the Attorney General has again, undermined the neutrality and independence of the Office of the Speaker to make decisions independently based on the sole premise of upholding parliamentary democracy.

In anything, the Attorney General should have (like any other member of the public), appeared before the Committee and made his submissions. This would have been the lawful and logical step.

This is a extremely dangerous action. Already at the beginning of this year, the Attorney General wrote to the Secretary-General of Parliament directing her to change the parliamentary office funding and resourcing formula. This matter could not be raised in Parliament after the Speaker ruled the contents of the letter were confidential in accordance with 44(12) of the Standing Orders.

And now the AG has gone a step further and through the Fiji First Committee Chairman stopped proceedings of a parliamentary committee mandated by the Speaker to meet – to look into serious allegations (torture of citizens and taxpayers).

This action by the Attorney General must be seen as a further step towards erosion of any semblance of parliamentary democracy in the New Year.

The Hon. Ratu Isoa has already tendered in parliament evidence of corruption against the Attorney General. He has interfered with the judiciary, FICAC, PAC and now a parliamentary committee.

The Leader of the Opposition calls on the Attorney General to tender his resignation.