The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) urges the State to reconsider its decision to relocate the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Family Law Court and the Juvenile Court to Veiuto where the Parliamentary complex is currently located.
According to FWCC Coordinator Shamima Ali, the proposed move will unfairly shift the burden of accessing the justice system to the people, and is not an incentive to seek redress through the Courts.
“From our experience, women are the ones who mainly use the Family Law Court. We know this because we assist women through the system. If the Courts are relocated to Veiuto, it increases the expense for women, particularly for the poor. At the moment, the Government Buildings area is more accessible in terms of public transportation and the Legal Aid Commission is nearby. Access to other government offices such as the Registrar General of Birth, Deaths and Marriages is also convenient”.
She further states: “It’s difficult to understand why the needs of the people are not at the center of Government’s decision-making process. Why was there no consultation? Why were the needs of Parliamentarians, who will receive more than adequate travel allowance, amongst other things, prioritised over the people they are elected to serve?”
Both women’s rights organisations demand the State to make public and transparent the cost-benefit analysis of the proposed relocation and associated renovation costs as well as undertake a public consultation.
FWRM’s Executive Director Virisila Buadromo said: “Once we see what the public thinks and look at the real cost of the shift, then a decision should be made. Decisions by the State should always have the welfare of the people as priority.”