28 Mar 2014

Human Rights Watch calls for Commission of Inquiry into Fiji labour rights

7:41 am on 28 March 2014

Human Rights Watch is calling on members of the UN International Labour Organisation to enact a Commission of Inquiry into labour rights in Fiji when it meets next week.

The watchdog says rights in Fiji have been continually deteriorating with severe restrictions being imposed on workers and unionists in recent months.

An ILO mission was turned around at the border in 2012, but the Australian Director for Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, says a Commission of Inquiry would have much greater power.

"This isn't something that the ILO does very lightly, I think in its history it's only done 11 commissions of inquiry, so I think there'll be a lot more international pressure on Fiji to accept a commission. And even if they didn't accept experts on the ground it is possible to conduct an investigation through other means."

Elaine Pearson says Human Rights Watch has written to key member states of the ILO, including New Zealand and Australia, to appeal them to support an inquiry.