28 Apr 2014

Fiji Electoral Decree a 'muzzle' on NGOs

1:51 pm on 28 April 2014

The Coalition on Human Rights in Fiji says it is still waiting for the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, to clarify the restrictions imposed on non-governmental organisations by the Electoral Decree.

Section 115 says any group receiving foreign funding cannot campaign on election issues, which includes organising debates, panel discussions or publishing information.

The chair, Shamima Ali, says it wrote a letter to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum a month ago to request a second meeting and have the section removed, but has not heard back.

She says the provision attempts to muzzle NGOs from expressing any opinion before the September election, which she says is extremely disturbing.

"We have asked the Attorney General to remove section 115. There's no other jurisdiction in the world that has that sort of a clause in electoral legislation. We are in a very uneasy situation - we really don't know how far can we go, and do we continue as we have done before, promoting human rights, the rule of law, democracy."

Shamima Ali says it has appealed to the Electoral Commission for help, which is receiving legal advice on section 115.