Fiji has worse than average empowerment rights in the Pacific when it comes to right to assembly, right to opinion and expression and right to participate in government, states data released by the New Zealand-based Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI).
The HRMI said Fiji’s empowerment score of 5.8 out of 10 suggested that many people were not enjoying their civil liberties and political freedoms, that included freedom of speech, assembly and association, and democratic rights.
“Compared with the other countries in the Pacific, Fiji is performing worse than average on empowerment rights,” states the HRMI report released on October 2.
The HRMI report said 53 per cent of their human rights experts identified members of labour unions / workers’ rights advocates as being at risk of having their rights violated, 47 per cent identified human rights advocates as being at risk of having this right violated, 44 per cent identified people with particular political affiliations or beliefs as being “at risk of having this right violated”, and 38 per cent identified people who protested or engaged in non-violent political activity as being “at risk of having this right violated.”
The HRMI said supporters of the Opposition to the government, such as the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and The People’s Alliance party, had difficulty obtaining permits to hold gatherings.
“All people’s freedom of movement and the ability to gather were limited because of Covid-19 related curfews.
“Members of trade unions were unable to march without permits.”
The HRMI said that individuals believed to be organisers of political events were interrogated and investigated.
- Questions sent to Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum earlier this month on the contents of the HRMI report remained unanswered.