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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

30 April 2021

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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NGOCHR shocked at harsh penalty for three unemployed women who violated COVID-19 related Laws 30/04/2021

NGOCHR PR: NGOCHR shocked at harsh penalty for three unemployed women who violated COVID-19 related Laws
 
30/04/2021
 
The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) is shocked at the recent sentencing by the Magistrates Court of the three unemployed women who were arrested for violating COVID-19 related laws, as reported in the media.
 
The Coalition strongly believes that a more empathetic result was warranted in this situation, particularly when the women had informed the Court that they were unemployed and were in town to look for work. Given the current lockdown situation in some parts of Fiji, with only essential services being operational and others having to completely stop operations, people are experiencing severe economic hardships.
 
Laws do not exist in vacuums, rather they are a reflection of society. Where laws are applied unjustly, without taking into consideration peculiar hardships faced by people it is inflicted upon, it no longer serves the purpose of administering justice. The law is meant for the people. Surely there is a way to hold people accountable without further driving them into poverty by placing exorbitant fines on them.
 
The Coalition is also disappointed in the way this case was reported in the media, by sensationalizing the plight of these three women, without affording them the same dignity that is seen to be given to others who are charged with similar offences. The underlying tone of blaming them for merely trying to earn money for their livelihoods, and over-sensationalizing the story has resulted in further stigmatizing persons who come from economically challenged backgrounds. Not everyone is privileged enough, or can afford to, stay at home and survive through the lockdowns considering our current economic situation.
 
We all play a part in dealing with COVID-19, however if we lose our humanity in the process, then there is no worse a result. The Coalition strongly urges the State and all relevant stakeholders such as the Police, Justice system and Media to deal with the citizens of this country with dignity, respect and with adherence to their inherent human rights. The Coalition will assist in clearing the fines imposed by the Court.
 
NGOCHR urges everyone to adhere with all the regulations in relation to COVID-19.
 
 
End
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The Members of the NGOCHR include the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre(FWCC), Fiji Women's Rights Movement, Citizens' Constitutional Forum - CCF, femLINKpacific, Social Empowerment and Education Program- SEEP, and DIVA for Equality FIJI. Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) and Haus of Khameleon (HoK) are observers.
#humanrights #humandignity #NGOCHR