23 Apr 2009

Fiji's Human Rights Commission continues to take complaints

5:21 am on 23 April 2009

Fiji's Human Rights Commission is continuing to take complaints, although it no longer has commissioners to oversee them.

When President Josefa IloIlo abrogated the constitution a number of bodies were disbanded, including the electoral office and the office of the ombudsman.

Phillippa Tolley reports from Suva.

"The ombudsman used to be the head of the Commission, but since that office has been dumped, the human rights body it dosen't have a chairman. But it continues to operate, because it has its own legislation separate to the 1997 constitution and Bill of Rights, passed to set up the body itself. Through that legislation, it can investigate breaches of human rights. But as the Commission's complaints process can finally end at the High Court, those investigations can only progress so far as judges have not been appointed to either the High Court or the Fiji's Supreme Court. Under the first Presidential Decree made after the abrogation of the Constitution, the Commission is listed under the Prime Minister's office, but the decree does appear to ensure the Commission retains its independence. In Suva, Phillipa Tolley."