NGOCHR: Political intimidation not the way to build goodwill amongst the people

08/09/2016

The NGO Coalition for Human Rights is deeply concerned with the decision by police to stop a three-day forum on the sugar industry and the implications this will have on the civil liberties of Fijians.

According to a Fiji Times article “Impact on NGOs” (FT 08/09/2016), police shut down the forum organised by Dialogue Fiji due to the organisers failing to obtain a permit.

The NGOCHR notes that the permit requirement for meetings considered to be public in nature had been removed by the Attorney-General in July 2012. This was also reported in the media during its announcement.

“This has been an odd turn of events, as Civil Society has not applied for permits to convene with other members of the public since the 2012 announcement. We’ve had forums and public panels in the past to discuss topics such as rule of law, democracy, and constitutionality in Fiji but none of these have had such an overt response. This has been the norm before the 2013 Constitution and subsequent elections a year after,” said the interim NGOCHR Chair, Michelle Reddy.

The recent development is troubling as the event was on private property with participants invited. The Forum was organised to discuss the issues surrounding Fiji’s struggling sugar industry and the actions of the Police will only cement the public perception that rights or guarantees under the Fiji 2013 Constitution on Freedom of Association (19 (1)) are hollow in merit.

The NGOCHR calls on government to show due diligence in upholding the 2013 Constitution and an effort at goodwill in showcasing a substantive return to democracy.

ENDS.

For further information contact Michelle Reddy on +679 9982293 or
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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.

 [1]Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Permit to meet no longer required’ (Thursday 19 July, 2012) http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/3451/permit-to-meet-no-longer-required- [Accessed 8/9/16]