The Director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj implores all residential landlords to refrain from arbitrarily evicting tenants from their homes.
Raj says they have received a complaint from a couple from Nadi who with their 2-year-old son and a 4-days-old baby were recently forcibly evicted by their landlord.
He says the couple were assisted by nearby families to build a temporary shelter for them.
Raj says they are trying to obtain more details about this case.
He says such situations must be avoided.
The Director says both, the landlords as well as the residential tenants should negotiate and discuss their rental arrangements to avoid arbitrary eviction.
He says landlords should show compassion and respect the inherent human dignity of their tenants who may be in a financially precarious situation particularly in the context of COVID-19 and avoid arbitrary eviction.
Raj says landlords need to realise that these are extraordinary times given the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.
He says many people have become jobless or are unable to attend to work due to COVID-19 related restrictions which are necessary to contain the spread of the virus. Raj says this also applies to all those residing in accommodation provided by their employers and those who are working as farm labourers or caretakers.
He says they should not be given a 24-hour notice period to vacate during the current COVID 19 crisis.
The Director says landlords should also refrain from disconnecting water and electricity supply to frustrate their tenants.
He says these are trying times and people must have access to adequate housing, water, food and sanitation.
Raj says everyone must show compassion and care for each other.
The Commission reiterates that arbitrary evictions constitute a violation of section 39 (1) of the Fijian Constitution which guarantees everyone the right to freedom from arbitrary evictions from his or her home or to have his or home demolished without an order of a court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.
He adds that those residential tenants who can afford to pay their rent should act responsibly and do so given that landlords also have financial obligations and maybe now facing financial hardship.
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