US report on FHRADC

The Director Fiji's Human Rights and Anti- Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj. Picture: File/JOVESA NAISUA

RELUCTANCE to address politically sensitive human rights matters had led observers to assess the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as pro-government, claims the United States Department of State 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Fiji.

“The Constitution establishes the FHRADC, and it continued to receive reports of human rights violations lodged by citizens,” the document said.

“The Constitution prohibits the commission from investigating cases filed by individuals and organisations relating to the 2006 coup and the 2009 abrogation of the 1997 constitution.”

The report says the commission routinely worked with the government to improve certain human rights matters such as prisoner treatment.

“Observers reported it generally declined to address politically sensitive human rights matters and typically took the government’s side in public statements, leading observers to assess the FHRADC as pro-government.”

FHRADC director Ashwin Raj was sent a copy of the report and the report’s comment about the FHRADC being viewed as pro-government. “Before I comment, can you please qualify who these ‘observers’ are?” he said.

“And further to my email query, can you also explain what amounts as ‘politically sensitive’ human rights matters?

“And what is deemed as ‘typically’ taking ‘government’s side in public statements?'”

When informed the terms he had highlighted were part of the report, he said, “if these are their words, then it’s incumbent on you to seek their (drafters of the report) clarification and revert to me so that I can respond”.

“Once I get clarity on this and my earlier email, I will happily respond.”

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