19 May 2022, Suva, Fiji – The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) is organizing a Public Panel Discussion (PPD) with a continued focus on the development of human rights promotion and protection in Fiji. CCF earlier held a PPD on 28 April 2022 on the theme; ‘Human Rights in Fiji – The Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review Recommendations from the 3rd Cycle.’ From the discussions arising out of the earlier panel and in anticipation of Fiji’s upcoming general elections, it was clear that CCF needed to reactivate its role in convening safe spaces for public discourse and discussions on human rights developments in the country. More specifically, in the lead up to elections to convene a space for citizens to safely engage with all political parties and in doing so leaders realize the consistent efforts needed for the protection and respect of our inherent freedoms.
The theme for the upcoming PPD is; ‘Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in Fiji: Political Parties and their Human Rights Based Approaches.’ The Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) is used for the consideration and protection of inherent freedoms in human development. The HRBA is a framework, which closely looks at inequalities and discriminatory practices that affect human development and the non-compliance of international human rights standards. Human rights issues in Fiji relating to; the right to health, life, social security, equality, freedom of expression, access to justice are some examples of freedoms that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The PPD will allow for discussions on existing human rights issues in Fiji and ways in which political parties aim to bridge the gap.
CCF has sent invitations to all nine political parties registered for the upcoming Fiji General Elections for their participation in the PPD. CCF is also convening this platform to allow constructive dialogue on experienced challenges and recommendations from citizens. The keynote speaker for the PPD is Professor Shaista Shameem of the University of Fiji who is the former Ombudsman and Director Human Rights Commission with panelists consisting of representatives from registered political parties as mentioned. CCF urges political parties to utilise such spaces for honest discussions in the spirit of protecting and promoting the rights of every Fiji citizen. It is about building trust amongst citizens through democratic processes and taking necessary actions for accountability and transparency as expected of leaders after any election process.
In the past, CCF has organised such forms of public discussions on topical issues related to the organisation’s mandate. For instance, in 2018 the CCF organised an Annual Public Forum with the theme; ‘Different Perspectives of Freedom of Expression in Fiji, and Good Governance in Fiji – What and for Whom?’ In each event, CCF has strived to ensure constructive and substantive discussions on given themes with engagements from experts and representatives from members of parliament (government and opposition), civil society and academia. The discussions are organised to create a safe space for public engagements with invited panelists on the platform’s designated theme, which considers; issues of national interest, principles and processes of democracy, good governance, diversity, and multiculturalism. The CCF is not affiliated to any political party.
The public is invited to attend the panel on Thursday 19 May at the Southern Cross Hotel conference room from 6pm to 8pm. The event will also be streamed live on the CCF Facebook page (@ccf.fiji) where members of the public are encouraged to send in questions by a leaving a comment. There will be time allocated for a question and answer session between the panelists and participants.
Sylvester Racule at firstname.lastname@example.org or 3308379