11 Mar 2008

Disagreement in Fiji over UN report on human rights body

3:45 pm on 11 March 2008

Fiji's Human Rights Commissioner, Shamima Ali, is backing concerns from a United Nations committee questioning the independence of the local Human Rights Commission.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says the commission may no longer meet the criteria set out under the guiding international principles for such organisations.

Shamima Ali, who has been working outside of the commission since shortly after the 2006 coup, says the Paris Principles mentioned by the committee are what all national human rights organisations are built on:

"The impartiality, the independence of the human rights commission, which is a very important principle within the Paris Principles, that has been violated I believe, that has been totally violated in this country."

Fiji's Human Rights Commissioner, Shamima Ali

The head of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, has accused the committee of making an observation about the Commission's independence without giving it any opportunity to to heard on the allegations.

She says it has exceeded its jurisdiction.