27 April 2022, Suva, Fiji – Human rights are basic rights and freedoms accorded to each individual from birth until death. These rights derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is recognized as having paved the way for the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties. It presents a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations. In Fiji, the Bill of Rights in the 2013 Fijian Constitution recognizes the Rights to life, personal liberty, detained persons, health, children, disabilities and Freedom of assembly to name a few. These rights and freedoms are limited and come with responsibilities.
States may note on paper that human rights are recognized and protected in local laws, the implementation component is crucial. States are responsible to report on the implementation of core human rights to improve in-country situations. A UN reporting mechanism is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which is a state driven process. The UPR is an accountability and peer review mechanism where UN member states examine each-others human rights records.
Fiji has participated in three cycles with the State submitting its report in 2019 during the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). During Fiji’s reporting under the third cycle, other UN member states asked questions and made recommendations to help with improving human rights standards in country. A total of 242 recommendations were given, with 207 supported by the State and 35 noted. There were 54 themes with some of them being Acceptance of International Norms, Right to Development, Right to Health, Domestic Violence, and Right to social security.
The UPR process also provides for the participation of all relevant stakeholders, which includes Civil Society Organisations (CSO). CSO engagement in the UPR has proven to be crucial for its success in implementing progressive policies on human rights and having effective impact on the ground. Twelve (12) locally registered NGOs under the UPR CSO Working Group, with CCF as Secretariat submitted its report in March 2019. The outcome of the UPR should be implemented primarily by the State concerned and as appropriate by other stakeholders.
CCF believes the recommendations put forward by the UN member states need to be actioned. In supporting the recommendations and enabling dialogue for discussions on human rights protection, CCF has organized a public panel discussion focusing on two themes from recommendations to Fiji in the 3rd cycle. The themes are ‘Equality and non-discrimination’ which had 15 recommendations and ‘Human rights and poverty’ with 9 recommendations. The overall theme for this event is Human Rights in Fiji – ‘The Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review Recommendations from the 3rd Cycle’.
The keynote speaker is Ms. Heike Alefsen of the United National Pacific Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Panelists include Professor Shaista Shameem of the University of Fiji who is the former Ombudsman and Director Human Rights Commission, Ms. Savaira Tinai of the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation and Ms. Latileta Gaga who is the Assistant Secretary of the Fiji Trade Union Congress. Each speaker will be providing different perspectives from their respective fields and relating it to the UPR themes.
The event aims to raise awareness on the UPR, the protection of human rights in Fiji and create a platform for citizens to engage with the panelists on matters relating to the theme. The general public is invited to attend the panel on Thursday 28 April 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) as well. 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
About The Universal Periodic Review (UPR):
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States.
Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 4 years. 42 Member States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to reviewing 14 Member States each. These three (3) Working Group sessions are usually held in January / February, May / June and October / November.
The results of each review is reflected in the Final Report of the Working Group, which lists the recommendations the State under review (SuR) will have to implement before the next scheduled review.
The UPR is a full-circle process comprised of three (3) key stages:
- Preparation for the Review and reporting on implementation
- Review of the human rights situation of the SuR and adoption of the Report
- Implementation of Recommendations and reporting at mid-term