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Chaudhry questions A-G

Vishaal Kumar
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

THE Fiji Labour Party has questioned why Government was refusing to release demographic data based on ethnicity in a multi-racial country such as Fiji.

Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry questioned this while responding to a statement made by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament on Monday, where he criticised the opposition parties for what he called "their obsession with ethnicity".

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said no data based on ethnicity was collated under the 2017 census and therefore, such information was not available.

In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Census Commissioner Epeli Waqavonovono, confirmed they had asked about people's ethnicity but the decision to release it had to come from higher authority.

Mr Chaudhry said if the information was there, then why was it being withheld from the public and what was the Government trying to hide.

He said data based on ethnicity was absolutely essential to evaluate the social and economic progress of different ethnic groups.

"Unless we have such data, how can we evaluate whether each community is receiving fair treatment, or what their special needs and wants are?," Mr Chaudhry said.

He also reiterated to the A-G a concern expressed by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mutuma Ruteere, on the lack of disaggregated data on the socioeconomic situation of members of ethnic groups. Mr Ruteere had said in order to measure progress made on the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the policies of inclusiveness set up by the current Government, there needed to be an objective evaluation which could only be undertaken if statistics and in particular, disaggregated data, were collected and made available.

Mr Chaudhry also said data based on ethnicity was essential to ensure equality of treatment of all races.

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