Human rights

THE state of human rights in Fiji would be a critical issue in political discussions leading up to the 2018 General Election.

Four out of the six political parties that are looking forward to this year’s polls have come out with mixed views on the state of human rights of Fijians, revealing their plans and policies on the issue and calling for robust laws that protect individuals.

The six registered political parties were asked the questions:

* What is your view on the status of human rights in Fiji?

* How will your party address it?

The FijiFirst party and the Fiji United Freedom Party did not respond to the questions when this edition went to press yesterday. Questions were sent to the parties via electronic mail (email) on Wednesday.

Responding to the questions, Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube said as the country moved closer to the general election, it was now even more urgent and important that abuses on individual’s human rights not be tolerated as it happened in the past.

“One of the founding pillars of Unity Fiji is to build a nation that is free and fair to all the people­­ ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­- a country that we will be proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren,” Mr Narube said.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad claimed that despite Fiji’s return to parliamentary democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens remained under siege.

Fiji Labour Party parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh claimed the country continued to face strong criticism for its poor human rights record from international organisations, including the UN Human Rights Council and Amnesty International.

Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka said if his party formed government, it would review human rights laws to remove limitations and ensure they were reasonable and justifiable.

“We must all recognise and embrace that human rights are fundamental or inherent to every human being. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that everyone is entitled to all human rights and freedoms, without distinction of race, or any other prohibited ground of discrimination.”