9 Aug 2002

Fiji women fight back after Prime Minister calls NGO members sick

4:25 pm on 9 August 2002

The Fiji Womens Rights Movement has lashed out at the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, for describing members of the NGO Coalition for Human Rights, as sick.

The movement's coordinator, Virisila Buadromo, says Mr Qarase's attack on the coalition for its submission to a UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, shows his government's lack of committment to transparency and accountability.

Ms Buadromo says it's not sick to submit a factual report or to act as a watch on the government of the day.

She says rather than shoot the messenger, the Qarase administration should be true to its committment under the UN Convention.

In submissions made in Geneva, the NGO coalition, represented by the Rev Akuila Yabaki and Jone Dakuvula, alleged racial discrimination by the government in a number of areas.

These include the exclusion of the Labour Party from the government and the plan to introduce a more racially biased constitution.

They also alleged racial discrimination in the Social Justice Act, in the public service, in native land policies, the eviction of cane farmers and the farming assistance scheme.