22 Mar 2006

Fiji Human Rights Commission to monitor election campaign speeches

8:50 am on 22 March 2006

The Fiji Human Rights Commission will monitor the current general election campaign for hate speeches.

A Fiji Times report says the Commission has warned that people and political parties found guilty of making hate speeches would be liable to imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of 300-US dollars.

The Commission director, Dr Shaista Shameem, says hate speeches are against provisions of the Public Order Act and anyone making them would initially be cautioned.

Dr Shameem says hate speeches constitute a breach of human rights enshrined in the constitution.

She says the constitution defines hate speech as any expression that encourages discrimination on a range of the grounds including race, ethnic origin, colour, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age or disability.

The Human Rights Commission will monitor all rallies and pocket meetings leading up to the general election.