Fiji Council Of Social Services Executive Director, Vani Catanasiga says while Opposition Leader Voreqe Bainimarama’s concern is commended, his statement is inciteful and from an atrocity early warning perspective this could motivate or drive certain individuals or groups to resort to violence as a response to real or perceived threats insinuated in such a statement.
She highlighted this when Bainimarama urged citizens who are living in fear or whose rights and freedoms as outlined in the Fijian Constitution have been undermined to email the FijiFirst Party.
Catanasiga says this is a critical time for our country therefore, she has urged political leaders to exercise wisdom and restraint in their public statements, keeping in mind that there is widespread social trauma of citizens due to our history of coups in Fiji, and our fragile political environment.
She says in the past 16 years, the FijiFirst Government has built mechanisms for redress and complaints that had been effective and should have been recommended as a first option in Bainimarama’s statement.
Catanasiga says these include the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Media Industry Development Authority and most of all, the Fiji Police Force.
The Executive Director says it was important during this national transition that those who feel to be victimized get appropriate support that could also include psychosocial services and referral assistance.
She further says the Government has the responsibility to protect, an international norm mandated by the United Nations and that basically means that all parts of government must work towards ensuring that people and their basic rights are safeguarded and protected.
Catanasiga says should potential complainants feel unsafe about these options, the Fiji Council of Social Services is urging these individuals to reach out to human rights NGOs to assist.
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