Take it up with Immigration: Speaker on NFP’s Professor Lal motion

Fiji’s Speaker of the House Ratu Epeli Nailatikau ruled out of order two motions raised by the National Federation Party including the request to allow the family of the late Professor Brij Lal bring his ashes to the country saying that such decisions are made by the Immigration Department.

Regarding the motion relating to the late Professor Lal, Ratu Epeli said that it was beyond the Fijian Parliament’s jurisdiction.

The NFP had moved that the ban placed on the late Professor Lal and his wife Dr Padma be rescinded by the Immigration Department to allow her and their children to bring his ashes to Fiji. Professor Lal was deported from Fiji in 2009 and along with Dr Padma, were indefinitely barred from re-entering the country since 2015 because his actions were “prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order and security of Government of Fiji.” He died in Brisbane in December 2021, aged 69.

“On the matter of the motion of the late Professor Brij Lal, the honorable speaker has ruled on numerous occasions that under the doctrine, separation of powers parliament is supposed to make laws, and government is supposed to uphold the law to make it work. As such Parliament cannot interfere with policy implementation by the government and its statutory bodies. On that basis this motion is out of order as it will create rise to debate which would purportedly interfere with the mandate of the government,” Ratu Epeli ruled.

“To clarify the matter is one for the Immigration Department and which Parliament cannot interfere with. It is for the late Professor Lal family to pursue the matter with the department through the process of application and appeals that are provided, like other such cases under the department’s jurisdiction.”

Ratu Epeli said that if the family felt that they have been unfairly treated they should seek redress via the available avenues “which they should pursue”.

“It is not for parliament to interfere in such matters at this level.”

The other motion was raised by NFP MP Lenora Qereqeretabua who requested that a special committee is set up to review and assess the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response.

Ratu Epeli ruled that there was no need to set up a special committee because it could be dealt with by the existing Standing Committee on Social Affairs whose mandate include matters relating to health. He said to do as Qereqeretabua moved would be a duplication of the work done by the committee on social affairs.

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