There is a need for Fiji to apply ratified international laws to domestic laws to assist with providing clarity on issues of racial discrimination.
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) calls for the state to comply with its obligations in terms of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which Fiji ratified on 11 January 1973.
Offences relating to hate crime, racism and sacrilege are serious matters of international law. Fiji as a state party to CERD has an obligation to apply ratified international laws into domestic laws.
At present, there are various legislations that refer to racial matters as being prohibited. For example, the Public Order (Amendment) Act, the 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, the Crimes Act 2009 and the Human Rights Commission Act 2009. However, there is no specific legislation to provide laws prohibiting racial discrimination.
Fiji is a country with diverse cultures, ethnicities, and traditions hence, there are bound to be views that may be deemed discriminatory.
In addition to putting in place a racial discrimination legislation, a wide and thorough awareness and consultation with the public is critical. This will help people and policy makers understand each others’ views in the legislative phase and also in the implementation phase of such a law so as to encourage responsibility when expressing views or statements on ethnicity.
The CCF urges the people of Fiji to impart views or statements on race with clarity and responsibility. Similarly, people who receive such information are encouraged to engage in constructive discussion to avoid misinterpretations or misunderstanding.