May 21, 2009

Yabaki says restrictions on human rights commission unfortunate

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 16:06
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THE Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) describes the curtailment of the status and powers of the Fiji Human Rights Commission (FHRC) by a Presidential decree as unfortunate, however, CCF reminds that the international human rights mechanisms can still be utilised under the various human rights declarations and conventions.

CCF calls on the Caretaker Government to restore the 1997 Constitution and the judiciary, so that those arrested or detained under the State of Emergency regulations have a chance of fair treatment from the law.

“The decree prevents the FHRC from receiving complaints against, investigating, questioning or challenging the legality or validity of any decrees made by the President. It is interfering with the independence of the FHRC,” chief executive officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki said.

“The FHRC will now be unable to perform the key role of acting as a watchdog of the government as it is no longer allowed to make recommendations on the implications of any proposed law or policy that may affect human rights,” Rev Yabaki said.

“However, Fiji’s Government is still accountable to the international human rights bodies and has obligations to protect and respect core human rights and provide progress reports to the international community represented by the various treaty bodies,” Rev Yabaki said.

“Fiji, as a member of the international community and a recipient of aid money, has obligations to uphold core human rights.”

“Concerned citizens can still utilise the international mechanisms available – such as the reporting and complaints procedures available through the Optional Protocols and the UN Committees for human rights conventions and declarations,” Rev Yabaki said. – fiji uncensored


Regime still open to talks with Aust, NZ

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:58
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INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama is still willing to hold talks with Kevin Rudd and John Key about Fiji’s way forward.

Ministry of Information’s permanent secretary and army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni yesterday said that Commodore Bainimarama’s was still open to meetings with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts. But Leweni said it was up to the two countries to move quickly if they wanted to meet as Fiji was moving on and Commodore Bainimarama would not be waiting for them.

“As the PM said in his earlier interview with Graham Davis and again today, he maintains he is ready to meet Kevin Rudd and John Key for talks,” he told the Fiji SUN.

Lt-Col Leweni reiterated the stand after Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti Seveti called on Pacific countries to support Fiji.

In a joint press conference with Mr Key in Wellington on Tuesday, Dr Seveti called for support as the country finds a pathway to democracy. “We do not know why the change of heart but our PM wants to have talks with Rudd and Key.”

He said decision by the Pacific Forum to suspend Fiji and now the call made by Dr Seveti is not going to change anything.

“It must be clear that with or without the Pacific Forum, Fiji is going to forge ahead with its road map set out by the charter.”

Lt-Col Leweni said despite the suspension and the stand Australia and New Zealand have taken, the country was able to find new friends who understood Fiji’s situation.

“We’ve been able to have friends from Asian countries who understand our situation and have come in to help.” – fiji uncensored

Methodist Church says conference not political

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:33
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THE general secretary of Fiji’s Methodist Church, Reverend Ame Tugaue, says while the church is mindful that
the government may put a stop to the church’s annual conference, the conference is not politically motivated.

Mr Tugaue said the church had already received the green light to hold the annual meeting scheduled for August.

“We have got the permit for the conference to go ahead,” he said.

Last week, Ministry of Information permanent secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni warned the Government would not hesitate to defer the conference indefinitely if the security forces suspect any motive to cause instability.

The warning was issued after the church’s social services director, Reverend Manasa Lasaro, a former president of the church was taken into police custody last week.

He was questioned over what Leweni said was an anti-government proposal the clergyman had made to the church hierachy, and which police believed was in contravention of existing emergency regulations.

Leweni said people needed to realise that under regulations, the police will not hesitate to take into custody anybody believed to be a threat to peace and Fiji.

He also appealed to members of the church who are preparing for the annual conference not to be misled by the few people that were trying to break peace and cause instability.

However, Rev Tugaue said whatever the investigations were involving Rev Lasaro must not be used against the church which had been holding the conference every year. – fiji uncensored

Roving ambassador Ross Ligairi passes away

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:28


FIJI’S Roving Ambassador and career diplomat Ross Ligairi died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital at 12.05am today, according to Fiji Live.

Mr Ligairi, over 50 years of age, was wheeled into the CWMH emergency unit at around midnight by family members and straight into the mini-operation theatre where doctors and nurses tried to revive him.

Moments later a woman’s cry was heard from within the theatre as one of his sons stood outside teary eyed.

Nurses at the hospital could not find any medical records of Ligairi since, as his wife Losalini Kasetimaibau highlighted; he had never visited the public hospital.

Mr Ligairi’s private doctor is expected to provide details of Mr Ligairi’s illness later today and hopefully avoid a post mortem examination.

The family has also been informed that all mortuaries in the greater Suva, Nausori and Navua areas are filled to capacity.

Mr Ligairi is survived by his wife and their three sons. He has four brothers and four sisters and is the second eldest in the family.

He hailed from Nabalebale Village in Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu and attended Queen Victoria School.

Mr Ligairi joined the civil service in 1978 and has been a diplomat for most of his career.

But, before that he had wanted to be a professional boxer and when studying in India held the All-India Universities middleweight title from 1973 to 1977.

Later in England, he held the British Universities middleweight title from 1979 to 1980.

He had 79 amateur fights, losing three on points.

In 1980, Mr Ligairi was posted to the permanent mission at the United Nations as Second Secretary and Vice Consul. His diplomatic engagements include, being media spokesman for Foreign Affairs from 1986 to 1988.

In 1988, he was posted to the Fiji Embassy in Wellington as charge d’affaires.

From September 1993 to August 1994, he was the principal assistant secretary and head of policy research and assessment unit.

He also worked under Sitiveni Rabuka as the PM’s private secretary before he was transferred as Counsellor to the Fiji Mission to the European Union in 1997.

In 2001, he was transferred back to the Foreign Affairs office in Suva to the position of chief assistant secretary for political treaties and later ascended to the position of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary.

In September last year, Mr Ligairi was appointed the new Roving Ambassador for the South Pacific replacing Ratu Finau Mara.

Following his new appointment, Mr Ligairi trekked around the region trying to win friends for Fiji.

One of his recent engagements, in March this year, was to convey to the Japanese Government Air Pacific’s withdrawal of its Narita service. – fiji uncensored

Democracy movement attacks Military Council for censoring youth festival

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:38
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THE Military Council is censoring the Pacific Youth Festival program and organising committee and facilitators, particularly pro-democracy/human rights activists.

This means that activists such as Jacque Koroi and Peter Waqavonovono will not be participating. They are starting with the locals then they will move on to the international speakers. The list will be finalised by the end of this week.

The theme of the PYF Agenda is “Actioning the Youth Agenda” and its five thematic components being:

  1. Promoting Healthy Living/Lifestyles;
  2. Pacific Identity;
  3. Climate Change Adaptation;
  4. Governance, Peace and Security; and
  5. Skills for Life.

Over 16 countries are expected to participate in this event with attendance levels expected at around 1,500.

What does this mean for young people given the latest news?

Well, you can expect the event to be an environment where young people will not be allowed to voice their opinions in relation to the current conflict not only in Fiji but in the region since 2006.

For example, the topic “Governance, Peace and Security” was strongly recommended to be part of the festival as a healthy discussion around what young people can do in taking responsibility and encouraging safer and secure communities in the region.

Yet again, young people’s vital participation in the process of peace keeping and conflict resolution discussion is swept under the carpet. How long must young people’s voices be stifled yet again. The PYF is obviously then going to be a forum where our youth are seen but not heard?

Mr Bole can then go to sleep better at night knowing that, ahh yes, they came and danced and its a good thing those youth activists were not allowed to participate.

Think again Mr Bole. These youth activists will not go away. These youth activists are tomorrow’s leaders and will be shaping future policy and when it comes to the elderly in our country – they will not hesitate to be ruthless. I don’t blame them given the way we have dealt historically with young people’s issues not only in Fiji but across the region!

If anything, the military regime has made another reactive move by dictating a festival for young people which will come back to bite them at the end of the day.

The research shows that when there is upheaval in any country, young people are the most vulnerable group to fuel civil disruption.

By dictating to the PYF, the military adds another layer to young people’s disillusionment and disappointment and confirms the slack leadership that this regime has evidently displayed in the last 3 years. What an utter disaapointment!

Tia Radrekusa,
Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement Secretary

Fiji hopes to re-engage the EU

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:31
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ATTORNEY-GENERAL Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji does not see the European Commission’s cancellation of its 2009 sugar allocation as the end of the issue.

In a statement posted on the government’s online site, Khaiyum said the decision was EC’s prerogative. “However, we do not view the cancellation to mean a closing of all doors.”

Taking an oblique dig at Australia and New Zealand’s hardline stance, Khaiyum said Fiji viewed the EC (the executive body of the European Union) as a committed development partner who was “engaging and open-minded”.

“[The EC’s] approach, comparatively, to discussions and negotiations has been based on principles of mutual respect, dignity, respect for sovereignty and finding long-term solutions to long-standing problems of the past and challenges of the future,” he said.

Khaiyum said Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement provided a mechanism which the EC and Fiji could use to continue consultations.

The agreement was first signed in June 2000 between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and revised in June 2005 with the new revision entering into force on July 1, 2008.

Issues such as peace and security, are an important part of the agreement. In the past, these would not have been part of such development co-operation treaties. In addition, the element of good governance is included as an “essential element” of the agreement.

Violation of these could lead to partial or complete suspension of development co-operation between the EU and the country in violation.

Fiji was deemed to have violated the terms of the agreement when it refused to hold elections this year and  when it abrogated the 1997 Constitution.

Article 96 determines how consultations can proceed if there are violations of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.

Khaiyum said the Government was now focussed on saving cost, increasing production and taking politics out of the sugar industry.

Other measures include:

  • Making  a commitment through Fiji Sugar Corporation to allocate $7million to cane planting programmes and development of cane related infrastructure;
  • Allocating $5m for cane rehabilitation after the recent devastating floods;
  • Transferring the extension services function from the Sugar Research Institute to FSC;
  • Winding up of the Fiji Sugar Marketing Company; and
  • Discontinuing the Sugar Commission of Fiji.

“With these initiatives by the Government and the willingness to engage with the EC under the Article 96 mechanism we are confident that the EC shall continue to consult and engage with Fiji and her people.” – fiji uncensored

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