Fiji reviewed under the UPR
Friday, 12 February 2010 11:54


On the morning of 11 February 2010, the Working Group on the UPR examined the human rights situation in Fiji. The small, low-level Fijian delegation was led by Mr Peceli Vocea, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the European Union. Fiji's opening statement focused on issues key to its current political situation, including the holding of democratic elections, the operation of its Public Emergency Regulations and the independence of the Fiji Human Rights Commission. While most States welcomed the engagement of Fiji in the dialogue process and some commended initiatives to promote gender equality, the comments and recommendations raised in the review were overwhelmingly critical with a particular emphasis on civil and political rights. Specific questions and recommendations were offered on the following issues:

  • Encouraging the implementation of immediate and clear steps to hold free and fair elections to ensure a peaceful restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and addressing as a matter of urgency and priority the gap in the protection of human rights following the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in April 2009.
  • Lifting the State of Emergency and repealing immediately the Public Emergency Regulations so as to guarantee the rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression and opinion, and the independence of the media.
  • The need to ensure the independence of the judiciary, and ensuring the compliance of the Fiji Human Rights Commission with the Paris Principles.
  • The need to take immediate steps to enable the free work and ensure the protection of human rights defenders and journalists from harassment and arbitrary detention and ensure the full investigation of incidents and the prosecution of perpetrators.
  • Ensuring the enjoyment of the freedom of religion by all.
  • Intensifying efforts to combat poverty as an issue of increasing urgency.
  • The need for further steps to promote gender equality and address rising rates of violence against women, including the adoption of laws on sexual violence.
  • Implementing measures to combat the sexual abuse of children.
  • The need to allow visits of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on torture to Fiji, as well as issuing a standing invitation to all UN special procedures.
  • The need to accede to and ratify the outstanding 14 core international human rights instruments, including in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention against Torture, including the need for developing timeframes for this process.

The Fijian delegation took two opportunities to answer questions and respond to comments; for the most part, however, these responses were read from a pre-prepared statement. The delegation's responses were noticeably brief on the issues of the protection of human rights defenders, and refrained from elaborating on the key issues previously addressed in its opening statement. The delegation also dismissed all concerns raised in relation to the independence of the judiciary and lawyers. Fiji did, however, state its commitment to return to democracy, as well as expressing its support to the UPR process. Following the 31 State interventions, the Working Group's review of Fiji finished 40 minutes ahead of time.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 10:10
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