Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific
Responsible for Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu as well as the three Overseas Countries and Territories in the Pacific.

EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN FIJI, 2019

23/06/2020 - 06:56
News stories

1.  Overview  of  the  human  rights  and  democracy  situation: Fiji  last  held  general  elections  in  November 2018. According to the final report of the Multinational Observer Group issued in February 2019, the election process was well-administered, with voting and counting being transparent and credible. The Multinational Observer Group has made 21 recommendations in  its  final  report  to  assist  the  Fijian  Elections  Office  to  build  on  the  achievements  of  this  election. In October 2018, Fiji was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term (2019  – 2021) which should give further impetus to strengthening the rule of law and ensuring protection of human rights and freedoms in the country. In 2019, Fiji has become the first and only Pacific Island State, which acceded to all the nine core international human rights instruments.  However,  a  number  of  human  rights  challenges  persist  in  the  country.  Gender  violence,  freedom  of  expression,  freedom  of  assembly  and  allegations  of  police  brutality constitute Fiji’s most relevant human rights issues in 2019.

2. EU action - key focus areas: The key focus areas of   EU action were, inter alia,  follow-up to the  fourth  EU-Fiji  high-level political dialogue  under  Article  8  of  the  ACP-EU  Partnership Agreement  of  May  2019.  The  EU  continued  to  promote  access  to  justice  and  respect  to  human  rights.  The  EU  has  also  supported  diversified  market-driven  agriculture,  promoting  alternative  livelihoods  and  income  generating  activities  and  alleviating  risks  to  natural  disasters. 

3.  EU  bilateral  political  engagement:  The  fourth  high-level political dialogue  with  Fiji  was  held    in    May    2019    in    Brussels    and    discussed    the    Multilateral    Observer    Group recommendations  following  2018  election;  accession  to  the  international  human  rights  instruments;  priorities  of  Fiji  in  its  capacity  of  the  UNHRC  Vice-President;  legislation  and  measures  by  the  authorities  in  the  area  of  media  environment;  freedom  of  expression,  as well  as  domestic  violence.  During  the  year,  the  EU  delegation  for  the  Pacific  carried  out  demarches  and  outreach  activities  inviting  Fiji  to  support  EU  human  rights  initiatives  and  priorities  at  the  UN  level.  Throughout  the  Pacific  region,  including  Fiji,  climate  change  and  human  rights  are  closely  intertwined.  The  EU  delegation  for  the  Pacific  actively  promotes  climate change awareness.

4.  EU  financial  engagement: The  11th  EDF-funded  'Access  to  Justice'  Programme  aims  at  enhancing institutional capacity and service delivery of the Judicial department as well as by the Legal Aid Commission (LAC) and provide initial support to Fiji's Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (HRADC). The programme focuses at improving access to justice for the population, with particular emphasis on poor and marginalised people.

The    EU-funded    project    'Upholding    Citizens’    Constitutional    Rights    for    Democratic    Consolidation in Fiji' implemented by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance  (International  IDEA)  in  consortium  with  four  Fijian  CSOs,  has  contributed  to  facilitating  engagement  between  the  state  institutions,  notably  the  Fijian  Elections  Office  (FEO), and Fiji based CSOs. Activities in the post-election period included dialogues and other interactive  activities  in  communities.  A  major  National  Forum  on  Women  in  Politics  (in October 2019), brought together women MPs, officials from the Ministry of Women, CSOs representatives,   aspiring   women   interested   in   politics   and   academics,   who   discussed   outcomes  of  Fiji  2018  elections,  challenges  related  to  women's  participation  and  touched  upon the issue of Temporary Special Measures for getting more women in Parliament.

The  ‘Pacific  Partnership  to  End  Violence  Against  Women  and  Girls’,  a  regional  project  bringing  together  governments,  CSOs,  communities  and  other  partners,  continued  to  be  implemented in 2019. The programme is funded primarily by the EU with targeted support from the Australian Government and UN Women. Priorities for Fiji, which has become one of the  focus  countries,  include  prevention  work  aiming  to  address  harmful  social  norms,  improving access to essential services for survivors of gender-based violence and monitoring and reporting on government commitments to gender equality and elimination of violence against women and girls.

Human rights advocacy in relation to Fiji's international commitments to media independence has been supported under the project ‘Valuing Voices – Digital Dialogue and Citizen's Stories (alternative forms of story-telling to advance rights and freedoms)’, implemented by the British Council. The activities included workshops, bringing together journalists, social-media, artists and human rights defenders. Improving capacities of CSOs to foster democratic governance and accountability, sustained participation of civil society in policy making was supported in 2019 through Yadrayadravi Accountability and Monitoring Programme implemented by ADRA and Participative Democracy and Accountability Action, implemented by The Citizens' Constitutional Forum.

‘Fiji in Transition: Towards a Sustainable Constitutional Democracy’ project, implemented by The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF), focused on creating dialogue with the government on human rights and the rule of law (through civic education, research and advocacy) to respond to the needs identified at the UPR 2014. In 2019, the project contributed to CSO advocacy during the 40th HRC session in Geneva, and supported joint CSOs submission to Fiji’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2019.

5. Multilateral context: Following accession in August 2019 to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) and to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW), Fiji has become a party to all nine core international human rights treaties.

Fiji has signed but not yet ratified the Optional Protocols of the CRC, on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC) and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC-OP-SC). Fiji is still to announce outcome of the internal discussions on the withdrawal of the reservations to the UN Convention against Torture (CAT). Reports to the Committees of CAT, CERD and CRPD are pending.

Fiji is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council, its term expiring in 2021. Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva is Vice-President of the Human Rights Council. Fiji has extended a standing invitation to the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and has outstanding visit requests from the Special Rapporteurs on independence of judges, and on freedom of assembly, as well as from the Working Group on business and human rights.

Fiji had its last UPR in November 2019. States’ recommendations mainly focused on issues related to freedom of speech and assembly. Next UPR for Fiji is scheduled to take place in November 2024.

Ritstjórnargreinar: