US State Department erroneously refers to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as a ‘Government Human Rights Body’ - Raj

US State Department erroneously refers to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as a ‘Government Human Rights Body’ - Raj

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 11/04/2021
Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj.

The Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj says the US State Department erroneously refers to the Commission as a “Government Human Rights Body”.

While responding to the 2020 report on human rights in Fiji issued by the US State Department, Raj says if the authors of the report could take considerable time and effort to sift through the Fijian Constitution and cite as evidence that the Constitution prohibits the Commission from investigating matters in relation to the 2006 coup and the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, he fails to understand how they glossed over the fact that section 45 (7) of the Fijian constitution guarantees the independence of the institution from the state.

Raj says nor did they make any effort to look at the powers of the Commission under section 12 of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Act.

He says as documented in its Annual Reports and publicised by mainstream media, the Commission is able to independently dispense with its mandate including conducting investigations against the State.

Raj adds this is evident in the various proceedings the Commission has instituted against the State and alternative reports prepared by the Commission as well as submissions to parliamentary standing committees on existing and proposed laws attest to the Commission’s independence.

He further says the Commission has expressed its views on a range of human rights issues that include: rights of arrested and detained persons, torture and brutality, use of force, on balancing the right to peaceful assembly against the imperatives of public order, on balancing rights and restrictions in the context of COVID-19 including curfews and lockdowns, discrimination on prohibited grounds, advocacy of hatred and the right to free speech, same sex marriage, sexual and gender based violence, human trafficking, business and human rights, rights of refugees and asylum seekers, rights of children and persons with disabilities, freedom of religion and the right to education, and most recently the deportation of the USP Vice-Chancellor.

Raj says contrary to the claims in the report, the Commission has been expressing their opinions loudly.

Raj also says surely, if this report is premised on the observations of select media rather than a wide cross section of the mainstream media in Fiji, one would get an impression that the Commission is not independent.

He adds the State Department does not acknowledge that it is not censorship but political bias that has plagued the possibility of accurate, balanced and fair reporting and this report is no exception.

The US State Department report says a variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases and government officials were somewhat cooperative and responsive to their views.

The report says the Fijian constitution establishes the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and it continued to receive reports of human rights violations lodged by citizens.

The report adds the constitution prohibits the commission from investigating cases filed by individuals and organizations relating to the 2006 coup and the 2009 abrogation of the 1997 constitution.

The report further says while the commission routinely worked with the government to improve certain human rights matters (such as prisoner treatment), observers reported it generally declined to address politically sensitive human rights matters and typically took the government’s side in public statements, leading observers to assess the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination as pro-government.


Latest Videos

Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations

CFL radio frequencies
IN DEPTH
Fijiana Drua historic win in Super W
The historic Super W win by the Rooster Chicken sponsored Fijiana Drua sets the platform for the Fijiana 15s side as they will play in the Women’s ...
31 days ago

Revised 2021-2022 National Budget passed in parliament
VAT to be zero rated for 21 items from 1st April 2022 and current 20 cents fuel tax to be removed - AG
63 days ago

Revised Budget consultations
Budget consultations held by the Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.  Mon 28th Feb Tue 08th Mar Wed ...
73 days ago
FEATURE NEWS
London 7s: Fiji beat Spain 29-19 in their 2nd pool game
Fiji vs Spain 1' Kick off by Waisea Nacuqu 0-0 1' Spain now in possession...
38 minutes ago
LATEST NEWS
A SODELPA Government would dialogue and enhance partnerships with Australia - Gavoka
SODELPA leader, Viliame Gavoka says a SODELPA Government would dialogue and enhance partnerships with Australia in areas of mutual interest such as ...
7 hours ago

FJFW is a platform for aspiring models and the industry is ready to accommodate them - Mani
The brand ambassador of FJFWxPalmolive 2022, Evlyn Mani says the models worked very hard and have inspired other aspiring models. She says the ...
8 hours ago

Singh earns extra income to support family at Suva Flea Market Bazaar
Being part of the Suva Flea Market Bazaar today has helped Vileshni Lata Singh earn extra income to support her family. Singh who lives in ...
8 hours ago

Supporters from Nadroumai Village in Nadroga at Churchill Park to watch Kalaveti Ravouvou
A group of people have come from Nadroumai Village in Nadroga to support Swire Shipping Fijian Drua centre Kalaveti Ravouvou against the Chiefs in ...
12 hours ago

FJFW model grateful for family support
Model, Meresiana Vatavesi from Ba who took part in her first Fiji Fashion Week last night says she is following in the footsteps of her sister, Sera ...
12 hours ago

TOP