Submission on Fiji sent to CERD Committee

Postdate: 13/ 11/ 2007

The Citizen’s Constitutional Forum (CCF) has made an initial submission to the Committee on the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), concerning the Republic of Fiji Islands .

The submission assesses, from the civil society point of view, the quality and extent of efforts made by the Government of Fiji since 2002, to comply with its obligations under the CERD Convention. The Fiji Government last made its submission to the Committee in 2002. In response to a request by the Committee on CERD, the Fiji Government submitted its 2005 and 2006 reports together in one document, on 20 June 2006.

Issues relating to racial discrimination, that are covered in the CCF submission include: the four coups and its impacts; history of reporting to the Committee on CERD by Fiji; the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill of 2005; preferential treatment by previous governments; race-based affirmative action in education and other areas; unresolved land issues and growth of squatter settlements; disproportionate emigration of Indo-Fijians; racist provisions in the Immigration Act 2003; suicide rates; government’s failure to provide a national identity that unites the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Fiji; and lastly, religious intolerance which is seen as a manifestation of racism in Fiji.

“The race-based attacks on non-Christian places of worship has continued unabated despite claims by the State in previous years that such attacks were for monies and jewellery kept inside the temples and mosques. This fails to adequately explain the graffiti and desecration of holy books and statues in these non-Christian places of worship,” CCF Director Ms Mackenzie said.

The most disturbing feature of racism in Fiji is the communal voting system inherited from the Colonial Government. CCF has received endorsement from two non-government organisations – the Women’s Action for Change (WAC) and the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA), for this initial submission sent to the CERD office in Geneva, on 31 October 2007 .

For further information, contact CCF on ph: 3308379 or fax: 3308380.

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Ms Tessa Mackenzie

CCF Director

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