World Human Rights Day 2021
Friday 10th December 2021
STOP TRAMPLING ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fiji will only experience genuine implementation of human rights after a change in government following next year’s general elections, said National Federation Party President Pio Tikoduadua.
Mr Tikoduadua said December 10 marks World Human Rights Day and “despite resumption of parliamentary democracy in October 2014, there is little respect for human rights because of a government that has become law unto itself”.
The NFP President said in the World Human Freedom Index (HFI), Fiji was ranked 77th out of 162 nations in 2020.
“It is clear that Fiji is an illiberal democracy. Despite having two general elections, Fijians do not have full knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of lack of information and civil liberties”.
“Even if knowledge is provided, it is under Standing Order 51 in parliament when legislation is rushed and passed with little time provided for intense scrutiny and with only an hour’s debate on the floor of parliament”.
“And if by chance the people through the Opposition or a rare ruling of the judiciary find out the truth and acts of alleged mismanagement or breaches of law, legislation is introduced in parliament without notice to change the laws to give legitimacy to breaches that are committed”.
“We have discovered this type of law making three times since 2017, the most recent being changes to the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act, Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Act and Interpretation Act, following a Court of Disputed Returns ruling upholding Hon Niko Nawaikula’s name as being validly registered after the Supervisor of Elections deleted his name, resulting in him losing his status as an MP”.
“The changes to the laws has affected the voter eligibility status of over 100,000 married women who are forced to change their names on their birth certificates to reflect their husbands’ surname, or change their voter cards to remove their current surname after marriage”.
“Apart from severely affecting their status as voters, it has many other implications regarding validity of other legal issues and documents”.
“The Attorney-General also attacked lawyers involved in the case and events surrounding this led to the unconstitutional sacking of the Solicitor-General”.
“These are painful examples of the illiberal democracy presided over by a two-men rule that doesn’t give a damn to upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Fiji’s citizens”.
“When the Opposition and others critical of government criticise its policies and proposed legislation, we are hauled to the police station and repeatedly questioned when police would better utilise their time in solving crimes committed against people. The fiasco over Bill No. 17 in July is a perfect example”.
“When I highlighted the brutal bashing of a Naqia village youth in April 2020 through a video on Facebook, I was arrested at 12.30am during curfew and spent 36 hours in a cell at Totogo Police Station”.
“Therefore, it is clear this government has become law unto itself. It has time and time again rode roughshod over democracy and the mandate of the people. It has shackled Fiji to its version of democracy and rule of law”.
“The people of Fiji will only enjoy unfettered human rights, fundamental freedoms, and a free and vibrant media that amplifies their voice after getting rid of this government at the ballot box next year”.