PNG, Fiji and Nauru criticised in Amnesty report
Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru have been criticised for failing to protect human rights in Amnesty International's annual look at human rights abuse around the world.
Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Nauru have been criticised for failing to protect human rights in Amnesty International's annual look at human rights abuse around the world.
In its 2014 Report on The State of the World's Human Rights, Amnesty says the PNG government has taken little action to address violence against women or sorcery-related violence.
In Nauru the arbitrary removal of judges and suspension of parliamentarians raised concerns about the rule of law and freedom of expression.
Amnesty says despite Fiji holding its first election last year since the 2006 military coup, a climate of fear and self-censorship prevails.
Bridget Tunnicliffe asked the organisation's Pacific researcher, Kate Schuetze, how that had manifested itself in Fiji.
KATE SCHUETZE: We've seen quite restrictive laws passed so that in policy and practice there are restrictions on the media things do start to open up a little bit in practice around the time of elections. But there's been no attempt since that time to review some of the decrees which have taken away rights in terms of freedom of expression and to strengthen human rights protection in the country.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: As you mentioned the report criticised the PNG government for taking little action to address violence against women or sorcery related violence. That's in spite of legal reforms in 2013 providing for harsher penalties. What do you think it is going to take to get a shift there?
KS: Well one of things they are talking about in Papua New Guinea is significantly increasing the police force, so at the moment the police force. So at the moment the police force hasn't increased with the population in Papua New Guinea for a number of years and they are working to bolster the numbers of the police. But that goes hand in hand with accountability and it needs to be ensured that police have human rights and gender based training so that they do appropriately respond when these cases are reported. I think the major change that needs to happen in PNG is not new laws it is actually implementation, its social change it's lifting the socioeconomic status of women so that they have more opportunities in Papua New Guinea and until that starts top change we are not going to see a massive dent in reducing violence against women.
BT: It mentions in Nauru the arbitrary removal of judges and suspension of parliamentarians that has raised concerns about the rule of law and freedom of expression. Do you think that Nauru is a particular worry because these things haven't happened before they are quite new?
KS: Yeah I think any small island country where you have got a small system of government and a small judiciary any kind of interference on this scale is quite dramatic and is going to have a ripple of effect across the board. What we saw in early last year was that a number of judges were dismissed and it took a number of time to reappoint people that of course creates problems with delaying existing court cases and really it does interfere with that process of justice. Judges should be able to make their decisions without fear of any individual repercussions against them and this has happened in this case. So that fundamentally undermines the rule of law in that country for everyone there.
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