17 Jul 2007

Fiji human rights watchdog criticises regime's travel bans

3:49 pm on 17 July 2007

Fiji's top human rights watchdog has condemned travel bans against two prominent critics of the military regime, and says she has asked for them to be lifted.

The head of Fiji's Women's Crisis Centre was yesterday prevented from boarding a plane to Australia, where she was due to speak at a feminists' summit.

It follows a similar ban on the former president of the Fiji Law Society, who was stopped from flying to a conference being held in Wellington today.

The chair of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, says while some restriction of movement is permitted under the Constitution, these bans are probably unfair.

"Unless you can have very good reasons for restricting people's travel, like for example criminal investigation, it's ah counter-productive, you know, to stop people from visiting overseas countries just because they have a particular point of view that may not be in support of the interim government."

Dr Shameem says if people in Fiji are spreading misinformation the government should respond to them in public, not impose bans.