24 Feb 2014

NZ MP says former Fiji human rights advocate "skating on thin ice"

7:35 pm on 24 February 2014

A former New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, has questioned why a New Zealand university has employed a former director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission with a poor human rights record.

Last week Shaista Shameem, who is the migrants director at Massey University, criticised a speech by Mr Peters saying it encouraged racism towards migrants.

Mr Peters, who leads the New Zealand First Party, says it is extraordinary that someone who defended the 2006 Fijian military coup is even allowed to live in New Zealand let alone work in the country.

He says Shaista Shameem is well known for failing to investigate human rights abuses during and following the 2006 coup.

Mr Peters says as the Commission's director she condemned the advice of the New Zealand High Commissioner and strongly criticised the then prime minister Helen Clark.

He says she also came out swinging against many well-known people in Fiji who were later dismissed from their positions.

Mr Peters says Professor Shameem even tried to interfere in the New Zealand government by attempting to have the High Commissioner to Fiji replaced.