NGOCHR Press Release: Human Rights Defenders Resolution Passed

2 December 2015

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights welcomes a United Nations General Assembly Resolution recognizing the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection. The Resolution was passed by vote on 25th November, supported by 117 countries.

However, the Coalition is concerned that Fiji was one of the 40 countries that abstained from voting on the Resolution.[1]

“By not supporting the Resolution, Fiji seems to be telling the world that we do not support the work of human rights defenders nor do we believe that human rights defenders should be protected,” said Coalition Chair, Shammima Ali.

“This decision to abstain was made on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – which is also the start of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign.

The 16 Days is a time when women human rights defenders and other stakeholders galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world,” added Ali.

Fiji told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during its Universal Periodic Review last year that the 2013 Constitution contained a robust bill of rights that included not only “civil and political rights but unprecedented social and economic rights.”[2]

Fiji also told the Council that the Constitution created substantive equality complemented by legal and policy implementation.

“Fiji needs to show that the commitments made during the UPR last October are not just rhetoric. Human rights are inherent, interrelated, interdependent, inalienable, universal and indivisible.

The Fiji Government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. The obligation to protect requires the Government to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses – this includes human rights defenders. The obligation to fulfill means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights,” Ali said.

“By abstaining from the human rights defenders declaration, Fiji may be implying that our Bill of Rights is not as robust as we would like.”

The NGO Coalition stands ready to support Fiji in meeting its human rights obligations. The group can provide assistance to the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission in a number of ways, including with making “recommendations to the Government about matters affecting compliance with human rights.”[3]

ENDS

For more information, contact Shamima Ali 9992875

[1] https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/unga-passes-resolution-on-the-protection-of-human-rights-defenders

[2] Swami, N. (2014, October 31). 'Robust Bill of Rights'. (Fiji Times) Retrieved November 30, 2015, from The Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=284693

[3] Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission. (2015). About FHADC. Retrieved Nov 30, 2015, from Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission: http://www.fhrc.org.fj/