NGOCHR: Fiji heads UN rights body; must strengthen commitment at home

19/01/2021 

United Nations Human Rights Council President – Nazhat Shameem Khan

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights calls for stronger accountability and commitment to human rights at home, as Fiji takes the world stage as the head of a UN body.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) elected Fiji’s ambassador Nazhat Shameem as its 2021 President on Friday.

“As the president of the UNHCR, Fiji now faces global scrutiny on our human rights obligations.  This is a welcome opportunity for Fiji to reflect on our progress and the existing human rights concerns that need to be addressed,” said the NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

It is encouraging to witness a small Pacific island nation like Fiji take the lead at a global forum and represent key regional human rights issues.

“It is also a critical time for the Pacific and Fiji, as we see the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic exacerbating human rights issues in the region. With Fiji’s new appointment, our government must act to ensure that human rights and the principles of equality and justice are upheld across all sectors,” said Ms. Singh.

A recent concern has been the cases of alleged police brutality that have been raised by the NGOCHR. The NGOCHR reiterates that there must be no rollback of human rights under the guise of response measures and continues to raise concerns on the arrests of Fiji citizens during the nation-wide curfew.

“We are at the world stage taking a strong stance on human rights but we must walk the talk here at home and set the example,” said Ms. Singh.

Fiji’s selection as the President of the UNHCR is a step forward in the right direction and we must keep this momentum to foster a culture that promotes and protects human rights, justice and democracy. 

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