NGOCHR: Celebration of Human Rights is not an Inconvenience
Having public marches on a Saturday is not a new thing in Suva and Fiji.
A month ago, October 8th, the Fiji Roads Authority allowed a public march to occur in celebration of Fiji Day. This Fiji Day march took place on a Saturday and roads were closed from 8am to 11am from Flea Market to Albert Park. In contrast, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights permit application requested for a shorter time frame and shorter route for the march.
The NGO Coalition on Human Rights made two applications to the FRA, which was rejected. The alternative route suggested by Fiji Roads from the NGO Coalition’s view causes more harm to all road users and pedestrian. FRA suggested “to use one lane on Victoria Parade and depending on the number of marchers it may even be possible to only use the footpath and the parking lane.”
As process dictates, the NGO Coalition like all other applicants would have had to publish notice of temporary road closure in the newspaper prior to scheduled date for temporary road closure, which would alert drivers and general public.
“It is contradictory that a month ago, the FRA granted a permit for a Fiji Day march which occurred on a Saturday. The celebration of human rights is not an inconvenience. The rejection of a permit to host a march in celebration of human rights is disheartening. The rhetoric and practice of FRA is questionable.”
“We have a government that has lauded itself internationally and regionally to be a promoter of human rights. It is the government’s duty as well as the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission’s mandate to ensure that there is an enabling environment for its citizens to practice their right to peaceful assembly” said the interim NGOCHR Chair, Michelle Reddy.