22 Feb 2007

Fiji Human Rights Commission to be investigated

10:28 am on 22 February 2007

The Fiji Human Rights Commission has come under scrutiny from the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions for some of its actions following the military takeover on December 5th.

The regional body's director, Kieren Fitzpatrick, has written to the acting chair of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Rodney Acraman, saying a meeting in Geneva on March 20th would discuss a report released on the takeover by its director, Dr Shaista Shameem.

Dr Shameem released a 32-page report early this year saying that the SDL party-led government was not legitimate and democratically elected because of the flaws in the electoral process.

Mr Fitzpatrick says another item on the agenda at the Geneva meeting would be the appointment of Mr Acraman himself as acting ombudsman which also makes him chair of the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

The demand for an explanation comes after Dr Shameem sought the help of the regional human rights body to determine whether Mr Acraman's appointment had complied with United Nations Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions.

Mr Kieren says the regional human rights body has received letters of concern from Greenpeace, Fiji human rights commissioner Shamima Ali, and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has proposed sending an Asia Pacific delegation on a fact finding mission to Fiji.

Dr Shameem has not been available for comment because she is in Geneva.