The contributions cite extensive research and other evidence to demonstrate significant areas in which Fiji’s Interim Government needs to meet its obligations under CERD.
Fiji has been a signatory to CERD since 1973 but successive governments between 1985 and 2002 did not submit reports to the committee.
In this regard, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the country’s return to the CERD fold. It is pertinent to note that after Fiji’s last submission in mid-2006, the Voreqe Bainimarama-led government promised to remove corruption and introduce policies which would end what it described as racist legislation. It has also resolved to remove race-based voting – a feature of Fiji’s electoral system since independence in 1970 – through new processes that is at the heart of the Electoral Reform.
The 2012 NGO Shadow report will demonstrate that despite the promulgation of several important laws, policies, and programmes, the present Government still faces the challenge of effectively eliminating racial discrimination, particularly against ethnic Indians. At the same time, new policies threaten the Indigenous people or i-Taukei. It will also show that deep-seated resentment based on past political events remain in parts of the community and is based largely on ethnic and religious differences, many of which are perceived rather than real.
Summary Of Recommendations
1. Enshrine a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, after consultation with the community
2. Enact legislation which criminalizes discrimination by ethnicity
3. Enact legislation to prohibit discrimination and vilification on the ground of religion and to criminalize such activities
4. Withdraw all reservations and declarations made with regards to CERD
5. Engage with Civil Society to formulate a plan for community education on the Constitution in all ethnic communities
6. Withdraw the Public Order Act (Amendment) Decree 2012 to allow for true participation and dialogue on elections and the removal of race-based voting
7. Remove the Media Industry (Development) Decree
8. Revive the Fiji Human Rights Commission and appoint a director and full-time commissioners to allow for complaints on ethnic discrimination
9. Make a clear statement on the concept of indigenous Fijians and address with the i-Taukei people
the dismantling of i-Taukei institutions and the revision of land laws
10. Make clear its position on indigenous people in connection with the human rights of other ethnic groups
11. Ensure that recruitment processes in the Fiji Military Forces reflects the commitment to end racial discrimination in this institution
12. Remove by-laws and institutions which cater to specific sections of the community by ethnicity
13. Make public the distribution of development assistance, including scholarships, by ethnicity
14. Provide information to the public on the amount, duration of and reason for any special benefit assistance provided by ethnicity or religion
15. Ensure that i-Taukei and Hindi languages are taught to all students wherever possible
16. Include culture and faith in the school curriculum as a means by which to increase tolerance of other ethnicities and faiths
17. Remove restrictions which prevent the Solomon Islands community from using FNPF contributions for rural housing
18. Launch an inquiry into the past political events to determine whether race was a factor in the removal of legally-elected legislature
19. Provide adequate, free interpreting and translating services
20. Provide information concerning access to the justice system to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, where appropriate in community languages
21. Ensure adequate participation and representation of all peoples in decision-making at all levels of government
22.Strengthen racial vilification laws and amend to include protections against religious vilification