The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is calling on authorities to ensure that COVID-19 related restrictions do not have a disproportionate and discriminatory effect on the public.
Director, Ashwin Raj says there must be reasonable exceptions to allow the public access to subsistence rights such as food, health care, transportation during medical emergencies, shelter particularly in the context of domestic violence and other basic necessities.
He says they are working closely with the Fiji Police Force in ensuring families and people have access to basic food and other essential items during lockdowns and other COVID-19 related restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
Raj says the Commission has received complaints from some residents from Nadi on not being allowed to pass certain checkpoints to go shopping for food and accessing banks and paying utility bills.
He says the Commission has contacted the Fiji Police Force to assist the public in situations of emergency but people too need to act responsibly as the restrictions have been placed for a good reason.
We have sent questions to police.
The Director adds COVID-19 should not be used as a cover to abuse the right to privacy, to discriminate and stigmatize, particularly those who may be residing in lockdown areas, or communities which have been screened for COVID-19 or if they once tested positive for COVID-19 and have now recovered.
He says it is a matter of concern that recently, a woman was reportedly denied access to a supermarket because she resided in Cunningham, a part of which is under lockdown. The Commission has not confirmed whether the woman is from the containment area.
The Commission is calling on supermarkets, banks and pharmacies to avoid targeting shoppers based on where they reside.
Raj is urging institutions to follow due processes during the pandemic when dealing with complaints relating to human rights violations such as the rights of arrested and detained persons, domestic violence, child abuse and employment relations.
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