16 Jun 2004

Human rights group says no place for discriminatory laws in Fiji education system

1:58 pm on 16 June 2004

The Human Rights Commission in Fiji says there is no place in the law for racial discrimination in Government policy.

The director of the Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, was reacting to news that the Government plans to provide free education exclusively to indigenous Fijian seventh formers from next year.

The Fiji Teachers Union has condemned the policy, saying it is racially divisive at a time when efforts are under way to relieve ethnic tensions.

The proposal is part of the SDL government's blueprint for affirmative action for indigenous education.

Dr Shameem, says she hasn't read the policy but the Constitution is clear on such matters.

"Section 38 of the Constitution states that no-one should be discriminated against on the grounds of their ethnicity or racial background. That's the law and we'll have to see whether the policy actually breaches that law."

She says there have been no official complaints about the policy yet.