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'I won't stand down'

Nasik Swami
Friday, February 23, 2018

FIJI Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director and Media Industry Development Authority chairperson Ashwin Raj says he does not give in to threats and will not resign from his positions.

Mr Raj's comment follows calls by former prime minister and SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka for him to step down from his positions after concerns on the independence of the commission was raised last week by the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein when he visited Fiji.

"I am not resigning. I don't give in to threats so easily. It's Rabuka's legacy of institutionalised racism and hate speeches that I am fighting today," Mr Raj said.

Mr Rabuka said Mr Raj should serve the people of Fiji and not the FijiFirst Government that appointed him.

"As director of Fiji's national human rights institution, he should stand up for the people of Fiji," the SODELPA leader said.

Mr Rabuka claimed that Mr Raj was instead highlighting the faults of the political opponents of the FijiFirst Government that appointed him.

"Ashwin Raj should be concerned with the FHRADC's noncompliance with the UN's Paris Principles on the independence of national human rights institutions.

"This nonrecognition by the UN explains why he becomes part of the official government delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission meetings, when other accredited national human rights institutions attend as independent national human rights institutions."

Mr Rabuka claimed that Mr Raj's continued repetition of the government line was in breach of the Paris Principles on the independence of national human rights institutions and underscores why the FHRADC would struggle to gain UN recognition.

"It is unprecedented that Raj now tries to claim he is independent given the concern expressed by the UN's most senior human rights official.

"It is incongruous that rather than accepting that the FHRADC is still noncompliant with UN standards on the independence of national human rights institutions, Raj continues to claim that criticism is unfair when the UN itself has assessed the FHRADC as not meeting requirements for a credible human rights institution."

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