Serious concerns are being raised by Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry and other concerned citizens who have contacted us and branded the proposed review of the 2003 Immigration Act for visa and permit exemptions for the iTaukei registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula, as discriminatory.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney-General has been holding consultations to review the Immigration Act. If the Act is amended, then the iTaukei registered under the Vola ni Kawa Bula will be able to enter Fiji and reside in Fiji without having to obtain a permit or a visa.
The committee highlighted that the amendment in the Act will depend on the feedback from the general public and consultations.
Mahendra Chaudhry asks why is this discriminatory amendment being proposed, and why it does not include other Fijians who were born in Fiji and are living overseas.
Chaudhry says the law should be inclusive, and the coalition government should deliver based on their promise that they will have fair and equitable policies.
We have sent questions to Attorney General, Siromi Turaga and Home Affairs and Immigration Minister, Pio Tikoduadua. They are yet to respond.
Members of the public have been urged to make written submissions to the office of the Attorney-General via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), postal or hand delivery before the deadline today.
iTaukei who are overseas citizens listed on the Vola ni Kawa Bula (Native Lands Register) should be allowed to automatically become Fijian citizens by virtue of the fact that they are listed on the VKB.
While making submissions during the consultation on the review of the Immigration Act 2003 for visa and permit exemptions for persons registered on the VKB, iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission Principal Administrative Officer, Apimeleki Tola says putting restrictions like this will be a slap on the face of a person who is listed on the VKB and is living overseas.
He says a person listed on the VKB becomes a landowner automatically and with that comes obligations to the vanua.
Tola says a person on the VKB should automatically become a citizen of Fiji because they have traditional obligations to perform.
A SODELPA representative, Joe Vuniwai says thousands from the indigenous community are residing overseas because of work opportunities, especially those in the British Army which required them to have a British passport.
He says that excluded them to be part of what is happening in the country.
Vuniwai also recommends that there should be a system that connects the Immigration Department and Fijian Missions overseas to the VKB because people have to come to Fiji to register their children on the VKB which is costly.
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