12 Feb 2010

United Nations increase pressure on Fiji over human rights

4:03 pm on 12 February 2010

Fiji's military regime has faced renewed pressure to address human rights abuses and make faster progress towards democratic elections.

Overnight in Geneva the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed Fiji's human rights record.

The head Fiji's Citizens Constitional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, is in Switzerland, and he says the dialogue between the review panel and the regime officials was direct.

"There was a chorus of opinion, right across the board from all the nations, there was no question, that they would like the election, democratic election. The answer to all this for Fiji to be returned to democratic election, sooner rather than later. And I think even China, Israel, they were sounding the same note, that that's what we need."

Mr Yabaki says he is encouraged by talk of a possible visit by UN representatives to Fiji to investigate human rights violations, such as torture, government influence on the judiciary and media bans it has imposed.

Meanwhile, military-led Fiji regime says it remains committed to holding elections in 2014 .

The Permanent Secretary in the office of the Fiji Prime Minister, Pio Tikoduadua says he would like to see the Human Rights Council review report first, but he does not see the need for this.

He says elections are not the solution to Fiji's problems.

If allegations for human rights as the UN is putting it, if they think that elections is going to solve all of that for us then we've been having elections for 40 years and human rights is a consistent issue, not only in Fiji everywhere, so definitely elections is not the answer.

Lieutenant Colonel Tikoduadua says Fiji has been engaging with the UN, and views it as a partner.