BY LEGAL TEAM
7 September 2016 marked the first Constitution Day in Fiji. To commemorate this, the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) held its inaugural Annual Human Rights Moot Court Competition on 16th September 2016, in the High Court of Suva. The event is a component of the European Union funded project “Fiji in Transition: Towards a Sustainable Democracy in Fiji.”
During the 2016 Competition, students from the University of the South Pacific and the Fiji National University argued their grounds of appeal based on a fictitious case of torture in the Court of Appeal in a single round of competition. The competition was presided over by His Lordship Mr. Justice David Alfred who then at the Awards Ceremony and dinner also awarded the Fiji National University as Winners and The University of the South Pacific as a close Runner-Up while University of the South Pacific’s third year law student Ziyad Parvez was named the Best Mooter.
The purpose of the event is twofold. Firstly, the Moot Court Competition is designed to test the Bill of Rights and Constitutional Redress provisions under the Fijian Constitution.
Secondly, a discussion on Human Rights Law and Practice in Fiji: Challenges and Opportunities in the Fijian jurisdiction opens up a platform for the legal fraternity and those who relate to human rights work, to consider the possible practical barriers, challenges and opportunities that human rights cases pose in the Fijian jurisdiction and share their experience. This discussion also allows the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission a space to discuss their approach to these cases providing audiences with information on the current processes and plans of the Commission.
A series of competitions in the next three years has the overall purpose of improving students’ awareness and interest in human rights law and practice, and creating a demand and market for well trained human rights lawyers as the likely consequence for a healthy and robust human rights law and practice in Fiji and the Pacific Region.
Prior to the event, Fiji National University’s third year law student Leona Panapasa said, “This event will be the first ever moot court competition that we will participate in and for us this is good because we see it as an opportunity to show the people that FNU does offer law studies and also has potential students to represent anyone in court or with any legal matter.”
Ziyad Parvez felt that the competition would better enhance his understanding on human rights practice in Fiji. “Apart from trying to gain experience it would be interesting to see how international conventions and constitutional provisions are applied before the court and how the limitations actually prohibit the application of human rights laws,” said Mr. Parvez.