5 Sep 2013

HRW calls for Fiji constitution to be amended

1:17 pm on 5 September 2013

The organisation Human Rights Watch has called on the Fiji regime to amend its draft constitution, which is due to come into force tomorrow.

It says the draft constitution, which was released two weeks ago, represents a major step backwards for human rights from the constitution thrown out by Fiji's military in April 2009.

Human Rights Watch says unless the government revises this draft to guarantee freedom of association, assembly and expression, it's hard to see how Fiji could become a rights-respecting democracy.

It says rarely has a whitewash of past rights abuses been so sweeping and absolute, warning that the adoption of sweeping immunity provisions will slam the door on efforts to achieve accountability and justice in Fiji.

The new draft was commissioned in January, when the regime dumped an earlier draft by the Constitution Commission, with the president arguing that Fiji had to break with its past and ensure that unelected people no longer made decisions for the general public.