NGO Coalition on Human Rights

Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights

P.O Box 12882 Suva, Fiji Ph: 679-3313 300

Friday July 20, 2012

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NGOCHR commends Fiji Constitution Commission statement

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) shares the concern expressed by the Fiji Constitution Commission on the promulgation of the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constituent Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012 and the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012.

In a statement yesterday the Commission raised concerns on aspects of the Decree giving Commodore Frank Bainimarama “full control over the size and composition of the Constituent Assembly” as well as the “broad immunity provision for the 2006 and earlier coups to be entrenched in the new constitution”.

According to NGOCHR Chair Shamima Ali, the Commission has articulated what many in Fiji are concerned about with respect to the legitimacy and credibility of the process.

“You cannot claim to promote or envision ’an inclusive, participatory and transparent process’ and at the same time put in place provisions that clearly undermine and violate those values,” she said.

Like the Commission, the NGOCHR agrees with the conditions imposed in the Decrees “essential principles of democracy are ignored and the independence of the [Constituent] Assembly is negated”.

The NGOCHR believes that this will have a major impact on the participation of Fiji’s people, especially women, in the constitution-making process.

“For the last couple of months various NGOs around the country, as part of their civic education programmes, have been encouraging women, especially young women to be part of the country’s constitution-making. How can we now encourage them to participate when we know that the integrity and the credibility of the process are compromised?” asked Ali.

While the NGOCHR acknowledges the temporary suspension of the requirements of permits for meetings by the State, it agrees with the Commission that the “current atmosphere in Fiji is not conducive to an open process in which Fijians can debate their future properly”.

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights urges the Interim Government to seriously re-think the promulgation of decrees that undermine democratic processes and negative impact on the  people of Fiji.

 ENDS.