NGO Coalition calls for stronger accountability but Commission says Fiji should face the same level of scrutiny as all other countries

NGO Coalition calls for stronger accountability but Commission says Fiji should face the same level of scrutiny as all other countries

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 21/01/2021
NGO Coalition on Human Rights Chair, Nalini Singh (left) and Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj (right)

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights Chair, Nalini Singh is calling for stronger accountability and commitment to human rights in Fiji however the Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj says Fiji should face the same level of scrutiny as all other countries in terms of it’s human rights record.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has elected Fiji's ambassador Nazhat Shameem as its 2021 President.

Nalini Singh says as the President of the UN Human Rights Council, Fiji now faces global scrutiny on our human rights obligations.

Singh says this is a welcome opportunity for Fiji to reflect on our progress and the existing human rights concerns that need to be addressed.

She says it is encouraging to witness a small Pacific island nation like Fiji take the lead at a global forum and represent key regional human rights issues.

Singh says a recent concern has been the cases of alleged police brutality that have been raised by the NGO Coalition.

She reiterates that there must be no rollback of human rights under the guise of response measures and continues to raise concerns on the arrests of Fiji citizens during the nation-wide curfew.

Singh says we are at the world stage taking a strong stance on human rights but we must walk the talk here at home and set the example.

The NGO Coalition says Fiji’s selection as the President of the UNHCR is a step forward in the right direction and we must keep this momentum to foster a culture that promotes and protects human rights, justice and democracy.

Raj says extraneous of whether Fiji would have assumed the Presidency of the Human Rights Council or not, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission will continue to work towards strengthening the human rights landscape in Fiji.

He says Fiji’s leadership of the Human Rights Council will no doubt strengthen the fabric of the Council. Raj says this has also created the conditions of possibility for Pacific Small Island Developing States to amplify global consciousness about two global emergencies: climate and health that confronts us today.

The Director says Fiji has in Ambassador Khan an able human rights champion who can seamlessly translate between these global and national imperatives.

Raj also says there should be no undue curtailment of civil liberties but we should have a right balance and periodic reviews on the restrictions. He says it should be a collective effort.

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