The Fiji CSO Universal Periodic Review Working Group calls for the State and the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (FHRADC) to safeguard the rights of citizens by taking every necessary step to ensure the work of the Commission is completely independent and compliant with international best practices.
Fiji has been receiving calls from United Nations (UN) member states regarding the FHRADC since the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to take necessary steps to align its entire structure to the Paris Principles.
Some of the recommendations for the FHRADC that have been received by UN member states in 2010 at the first cycle, 2014 in the second cycle and in November 2019 at the third cycle of the UPR are as follows:
- Take legislative measures to completely align the Commission to the Paris Principles;
- Strengthen the legal framework of the FHRADC to allow an independent operation to receive and investigate complaints in line with the Paris Principles; and
- Allocation of adequate funding and resources for the work of the FHRADC.
Most of these recommendations have received the support of the Fijian Delegation that has provided responses to the UN UPR Working Group and the UN member states. However, to date we have not seen a substantive change to the structure and legal framework of the Commission to realistically implement such recommendations.
The Fiji Civil Society Organistions’ UPR Working Group urges the government to swiftly work on reforming the Commission to the Paris Principles as the Commission is an institution where citizens need to confidently engage regarding all aspects of their rights. Citizens of Fiji look to the Commission for information on their rights, to report on allegations of their rights being violated and for support in accessing redress.
There needs to be an independent review of the Commission against the Paris Principles where issues highlighted need to be immediately addressed and implemented.
The collective also strongly encourages the Commission and other independent or statutory institutions to collaborate with CSOs in providing human rights services where there is a lack of resources to carry these out in various parts of Fiji. CSOs have often received feedbacks from communities in Fiji that they are either not aware of the existence of such an institution or the work that it carries out.
The Government and the Commission needs to utilize CSOs who are able to collaborate and assist with the area of human rights where resources are needed.
The UN Paris Principles are a set of requirements which National Human Rights Institutions such as the FHRADC, must meet to become accredited by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). The principles require that NHRIs protect and promote human rights. These could be done through receiving, investigating and resolving complaints of human rights violations. The NHRIs are also required to promote human rights through educational mediums, media and advising the government of the day.