The law has changed in Fiji to give individual rights and that is a right for children not to be harmed by anybody which includes their parents.
This is the stand by the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde.
The issue of corporal punishment of children was raised in the Parliament’s standing committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence .
Following a submission by the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Committee member Samuela Vunivalu raised the issue of corporal punishment.
” My concern this morning is about the rights of children which is in section 41 of the constitution. Before all this came, there were religions around the world. In Fiji we have the bible, ramayan and the Koran where we can punish our children. what will happen if a child reports his parents for teaching him as mentioned in the Bible, the Quran, can he defend himself in court?”
The Director of Public Prosecutions stated that the law gives children rights not to be harmed by anybody which needs to be adhered to.
” Fiji has through its Parliament decided to pass laws and we have a constitution and we have the Crimes act, we have the Child Welfare Act and we’ve also signed up to international conventions which are then incorporated jurisprudence into how our courts would interpret these rights and things”
“It’s always a balance , the right of a person to have their own religion and their religious beliefs and to teach their children about those things but that also has to be balanced with what rights of individuals are and there are rights that have been given to children and that is expressed in the law of the country and really that is something that needs to be adhered to ” said Pryde
Pryde also highlighted previously police could not intervene in domestic issues.
“There will be times when people would think that they want to do a particular thing but the law has changed. It used to be that consent was given to a man on marriage now we don’t, the law has changed and a man can’t rape his wife that’s the law change.
At the time , many years ago it might have been argued with us, an unwarranted intervention by the state into the private lives of individual people, 20 years ago we didn’t even have a word for domestic violence because it was seen as the family and the police have got no right looking into what a family does.”
” The law has changed in Fiji to give individuals rights and that is a right for children not to be harmed by anybody which includes their parents and it includes teachers in schools and it includes the police.” said Pryde
The Constitution’s section 41 subsection 1 ( d) states every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, any form of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour.