Target: President Epeli Nailatikau
Goal: Revise Fiji constitution to protect all human rights
In a recent draft of Fiji’s constitution, articles within this document allow the government to undermine freedom of expression, assembly and association. The constitution also grants immunity to those who have committed human rights abuse. The draft is scheduled to be made official soon and human rights activists all over the world are clamoring for revisions.
The drafting of the Fijian constitution was developed by a committee of people headed by constitutional and human rights lawyer Professor Yash Ghai, but the draft was subsequently trashed by the government who handed responsibilities over to legal officers in the attorney general’s chambers. If Professor Ghai were still able to develop the draft, he would acknowledge freedom of expression, assembly and association. Unfortunately Fiji’s history is rife with corruption. With Commodore Frank Bainimarama in power since a military coup, his government has attacked critics, human rights activists and journalists. He has also initiated a heavy censorship in regards of the media and arrested human rights defenders. The draft does provide for some human rights, but because of the military’s track record of dismissing such laws, or wording the law in their favor, it is highly unlikely that Fijian citizens will have full access to their basic human rights.
Other articles within the constitution highlight ways the government could abuse their power. During a state of emergency, the government of Fuji could disregard all rights and powers until the conflict has been resolved. It is difficult to determine how long a conflict can last, and all rights must be respected at all times. By dismissing rights, the government is inviting corruption and harm to come to their people. Another article highlights how employees can form trade unions and participate in union activities, however because of a loophole in the article, trade unions are severely at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their workers. The Fijian government has a history of stripping down labor movements as well and without revisions to their constitution, this will keep happening.
There are a plethora of human rights violations, which can be found in full here. If you wish for the Fiji government to revise their constitution to include all human rights sign this petition.
Dear President Epeli Nailatikau,
There are severe restrictions on human rights in your constitution and I am writing to ask that you revise this document to fully include them. The military’s involvement with the country is greatly concerning due to what has been done to labor movements and human rights activists. Your country also arrests and detains those who are asking for their rights, which is concerning. Your constitution prevents freedom of expression, assembly and association. All human beings have basic rights; your laws and current methods haven’t shown that your country cares for them.
It is crucial that every human being has rights because it is inherent and universal. To refuse a person of this is saying that they are worthless and their lives are not valuable. As a country you should not be saying this to your people; the people should know that their government cares enough to grant them rights. For the happiness of your nation, I implore you to revise your constitution.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Stinson’s Studio via Wikimedia