Cabinet endorses repeal of name-change policy bills for tabling in parliament

Fiji’s cabinet has drawn up two bills that will repeal changes made, by the Bainimarama Government, less than two years ago to the Interpretation Act 1967 and Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act 2012.

The bills – Interpretation (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Electoral (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Bill 2023, that will be presented in parliament at a future meeting, will reverse changes made in 2021 that required any form of identification thereon, including replacement cards, must reflect the individual’s birth certificate name.

Given that these changes were made in the lead-up to the 2022 Election, some voters whose voter ID names differed from their BC names had to change them. The amendment largely affected women who had used their married names on their voter ID, as opposed to their BC names which were essentially their maiden names. In order to comply, some were forced to change their BC names to their married names. The process caused them to feel a loss of identity and a disconnection from their family history.

In a statement following their 10th meeting in Suva this week, Fiji’s cabinet said the bills reflect the outcome of public consultations, held between late April and early May this year, on changes that were made in 2021.

“The general response from the public consultations held around Fiji on the name change policy laws was for the removal of the amendments made in 2021 in the implementation of the name change policy. In addition, those who made submissions were disappointed at the manner in which the change was introduced, as well as to the financial and emotional burden caused by the policy, to those directly affected,” the cabinet said.

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