17 Feb 2003

Women's group says Fiji government is trying to suppress lobbying groups

4:43 pm on 17 February 2003

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement has accused the government of trying to suppress lobbying groups and NGOs which do not support its policies.

The movement's co-ordinator, Virisila Buadromo, says some ministers have threatened that the Women's group would be deregistered if it continued to speak out against government policies.

This comes after the movement successfully lobbied against the government's nomination of the controversial former chief justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, to the UN's International Criminal Court.

Sir Timoci was forced to withdraw his candidacy.

Ms Buadromo says the government has introduced ways to gag NGOs.

"government has set a precedent deregistering the Citizen's Constitutional Forum....currently, the Government is not allowing NGOs to protest..... for example, we are unable to march....there is an under current feeling that the NGO sector is being gagged by Government, and we hope that Government realise that they need the NGO sector as much as we need them"

Ms Buadromo says the de-registering of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement will affect its funding and gender projects.

She says the movement has been assured of support from the International Women's Gender Caucus and other international NGOs if it's de-registered.