23 Sep 2011

France urged to revisit policies on New Caledonia's Kanaks

1:37 pm on 23 September 2011

A human rights investigator says France must look at the limits on the exercise of customary justice by Kanak authorities in New Caledonia.

This is one of a number of recommendations made by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, who made an official visit to the French territory earlier this year.

Don Wiseman has more:

"Mr Anaya says customary justice is an important part of the exercise of Kanak self-governance and self-determination, and the government of France should review existing limitations it places on this process. Mr Anaya says the Customary Senate should have more influence, and binding authority in some cases. He wants to see a redoubling of efforts to prepare Kanaks for leadership and calls for greater effort to increase their participation in voting. Mr Anaya wants Kanak access to the sea for subsistence fishing ensured and greater efforts to overcome the harmful environmental effects of mining. He says Kanak languages are under threat and greater attention must go to preserving and developing them. He says Kanaks don't get the same standard of health services as other groups in the territory. Mr Anaya also says there should be increased focus on the issues faced by Kanak children and youth, affirmative action to get them into professional training programmes and efforts to eradicate discrimination suffered by Kanak women."