Amnesty urges candidates to tackle human rights abuses

Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher Roshika Deo and Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali holding the Human Rights Agenda following its launch at the FWCC headquarters in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

AMNESTY International says Fiji’s next government must correct severe failings in the country’s human rights protection.

Amnesty Pacific researcher Roshika Deo said before Fijians head to the polls, all candidates should pledge to tackle the many and persistent human rights abuses that still afflict the country.

She made the comment during the launch of the Human Rights Agenda at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre in Suva yesterday.

Ms Deo claims that Fiji is a country where security forces continue to torture people, where media workers are harassed simply for doing their job, and where women are shamed and harassed for calling out violence and discrimination against them.

Ms Deo also said the tragic death of Josua Lalauvaki — soon after police reportedly assaulted and detained him — looms large before this election.

“This was not the first report of torture and abuse committed by the police this year.

Candidates should be clear-eyed about these tragedies, bring justice and reparations for the victims, and ensure they never happen again.

“Our agenda sends out a message of hope — Fiji’s next government has an opportunity to implement concrete proposals that could bring human rights change to the country.

“We look forward to discussing with candidates the commitments they will make to help ensure everyone in Fiji enjoys all their human rights,” she said.

Amnesty International is publishing a human rights agenda ahead of the vote, outlining six essential priorities for all candidates to commit to.

These include the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, preventing torture and other ill-treatment, ending violence against women and girls, protecting human rights defenders, ensuring equality for LGBTI people, and guaranteeing meaningful inclusion of indigenous peoples in community decisions.