‘Amendment gives unfettered powers to SOE’

The People's Alliance party provisional candidate, Lynda Tabuya. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The People’s Alliance party deputy leader Lynda Tabuya says the latest amendment to the Electoral Act (Act No.49 of 2022) “gives unfettered powers to the Supervisor of Elections that not even Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption or police have”.

She said this in response to comments by Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem that she has until today to respond to the Fijian Elections Office (FE0) in relation to the Rock the Vote Fiji organisation.

Ms Tabuya said Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum brought the law and fast-tracked it in Parliament on September 1 this year – giving the SOE “the powers to direct a citizen to provide information or documents to him”.

“The citizen has no right to a lawyer, the citizen is not entitled to the right to remain silent, the citizen has no right to be protected against self incrimination,” she said.

“The citizen commits an offence if he or she refuses to answer. The SOE has demanded answers from me to his questions which are due tomorrow (today) Wednesday 5th October.

“However in the meantime, FICAC has called me in to question me on the same issues. I had a lawyer present, and I was not compelled by FICAC to answer questions.

This begs the question, why am I required to answer to SOE when FICAC is doing their job with my rights intact?”

Ms Tabuya claimed that with the new law, the SOE had powers that were “inherently unjust”.

“Not only is the new law unconstitutional, where is the inherent right of a citizen to remain silent, to have a lawyer present, to be protected against self-incrimination?”

Ms Tabuya attacked Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum “who brought this law to Parliament and passed it by his government majority”.

The new law, she said, creates “powers that are stripping away the rights of citizens”.

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