18 Nov 2003

UN Human Rights Commission asks Fiji for explanation on religion

4:57 pm on 18 November 2003

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has asked Fiji to explain comments on possible restrictions on the establishment of new religions.

The commission's special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Abdelfattah Amar, asked for the explanation following a complaint from the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

It relates to a comment from the attorney general, Qoroniasi Bale, that the Law Reform Commission was planning to introduce legal amendments that would restrict the number of religious groups entering the country.

It followed calls from the Methodist Church which wanted the number of religions to be restricted because they were poaching members and causing disruptions to traditional village life.

The UN wants to know the government's plans to legislate the concerns of the Methodist and draws attention to a UN resolution which asks states not to deprive their citizens of their freedom of religion and belief.