Legal expert and lecturer at the University of Auckland, Fuimaono Dylan Asafo says that Niue’s constitutional review must be more transparent.
Fuimaono Asafo responded to a request from BCN News to provide legal expert opinion on the process of the review of the 1974 constitution. He was able to provide his opinion after reading the report of the Constitution Review Committee tabled in June.
“This constitutional review is a critically important opportunity for the people of Niue to finally discuss the problems in Niuean politics for decades. It is also a rare chance to bring everyone in Niue together to explore and create solutions to these problems as a country.”
He continued saying that because constitutional reviews are so important and rare, they must be transparent and for the people to be given every opportunity to participate in the review. This also means that any documents and reports about the review must be publicly available and written in clear, detailed and thorough manner.
Two weeks ago, the Chair of the Committee O’love Jacobsen said that the public consultations are over, that it is now the business of the house.
However, Fuimaono Asafo says “It appears that the constitution review committee is wasting this great opportunity for Niue and the danger of wasting this opportunity is that the same problems will continue to burden Niue for generations. This will mean Niue will not be able to reach its full potential as a nation.”
Meanwhile Premier Tagelagi who was on News of the Week radio programme last week confirmed that his office was able to secure funding of $100 thousand dollars from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to fund the work on the review of the constitution. Until this funding was secured, the work of the committee has been funded by the Office of the Crown Law.
Premier Tagelagi also expressed his concern that the CRC report was not what he was expecting. The premier says that the report did not consider the intention in his motion which was unanimously supported by the Fono Ekepule in December last year. He fears that if this report is endorsed by the members of parliament, it will have been a waste of time.
“I’m afraid that we might end up with nothing, and a waste of time. We’re already into one year into this term and it’s sad if we don’t achieve anything in this”.
Premier Tagelagi also said he was surprised that he was not called to appear before the Committee given the mandate was given because of his motion.
The report of the Constitution Review Committee will be discussed at the next sitting of the Fono Ekepule.