NGO Coalition on Human Rights

Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights

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

Wednesday June 29, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Concern over arms and ammunition businesses in Fiji

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is extremely concerned over media reports that the Fiji Government is inviting foreign investors to set up an arms and ammunition business in the country.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation has quoted the Ministry of Defence’s senior official Joji Washington, as saying that “Fiji already has an existing Arms and Ammunition Act in place which makes it easier for companies to set up business in Fiji”.

The Coalition calls for urgent dialogue with civil society groups and peace activists as there is a danger that the establishment of such ventures will put every citizen of this country at risk.

According to the International Action Network on Small Arms “every year thousands of women are shot, traumatised, intimidated, enslaved, robbed and raped at gunpoint around the world. However, men are more likely to make, sell, buy, own, use or misuse small arms. They are also more likely to be killed or physically injured by them. The damage that women suffer from the availability and misuse of guns is disproportionate to their own role as owners or users. For every woman who is killed or injured by a firearm there are many more who are threatened, both in domestic situations and in war zones”.

According to Coalition Chair Shamima Ali, the fact that people will not have access to the arms without a license is irrelevant.

“We all know the level of pilfering that goes on in factories. Just imagine how easy it would be for people to gain access to guns and ammunition in this way,” she said.

Ali also said that any Government should place a vested interest in the safety and security of its citizens, not money making ventures which places them and future generations at risk.

“We should dialogue for peace and not build more arms for peace.”

ENDS.

For information or queries please contact FWRM Communications Officer on 331 2711 or email

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is a coalition of civil society organisations that works towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms within the framework of the rule of law.