11 Dec 2007

Fiji human rights head queries New Zealand and Australian stance

2:14 pm on 11 December 2007

The chairperson of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, is questioning the role of New Zealand and Australia in renewed backing for a regional human rights commission.

Pacific Island judges and magistrates from eight nations gave endorsement to the idea at a meeting in Brisbane.

Dr Shameem says some sort of convention on human rights would first have to be agreed on across the region.

She says while a number of Pacific nations have a common element in a Bill of Rights, this is not shared by Australia and New Zealand:

"and this is why I am particularly interested and will be observing with great interest just how Australia and New Zealand figure into this idea, because in order to get a convention going, you need to also somehow get everyone together within the same universal human rights framework or a regional or sub regional human rights framework."

Dr Shameem questions whether Australia or New Zealand would accept regional rulings on human rights issues in their own countries.

She says she is also suspicious that the two metropolitan powers could use such a proposal to influence the development of human rights in the region