25 Feb 2014

University says ex Fiji Human Rights Director eminently qualified for position

2:22 pm on 25 February 2014

New Zealand's Massey University says the former director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, is eminently qualified for her position as the director of New Migrants.

A former New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, has questioned why the university has employed Shaista Shameem, claiming she has a poor human rights record.

Leilani Momoisea reports,

"Winston Peters levelled a number of criticisms at Shaista Shameem, including saying she's well known for failing to investigate human rights abuses during and following the 2006 Fiji military coup. Shaista Shameem had earlier criticised a speech by Mr Peters, saying his speech encouraged racism towards migrants. When asked to respond to Mr Peters' claims, Shaista Shameem referred questions to Massey University's Communications Director, James Gardiner. Mr Gardiner says Shaista Shameem has told him Mr Peters comments are ill-informed, misleading and not true. He says he's taking her word on this, and does not wish to enter into any further public debate, on what are strongly held views by people with sometimes entrenched positions. Shaista Shameem's role at Massey University is to connect with new migrant communities, and ensure the university can work with them effectively."