Fiji Human Rights Commission described as 'snapping dogs'
Human rights defenders in Fiji have been accused of attacking the enemies of government rather than investigating abuses such as the deaths of five soldiers.
A prominent Fiji economist has hit out at what he calls 'posturing' human rights defenders that are ignoring past and present injustices.
Wadan Narsey has written a letter asking whether the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission is investigating the deaths of five soldiers following the 2000 mutiny.
It comes after the Commission's Director Ashwin Raj defended a statement on racism made by Fiji's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan.
Jo O'Brien asked Professor Narsey why he wrote the letter.
WADAN NARSEY: The primary reason is that justice has to be given for everybody not just the powerful people but also for the smallest people in society. I mean everybody knows the biblical saying you know whatsoever you shall do to the least of my brothers and sisters you are doing to me. You know here in Fiji at the moment there are people being prosecuted for all kinds of things, particular people in the media you know who are being persecuted for things which would never be considered to be crimes and people have been denied bail to do important things in their lives such as the Fiji Times Publisher Hank Arts was stopped from going to New Zealand to attend his daughter's wedding I mean for absolutely frivolous reasons even though there was incredible sureties given by not just himself and his family but by prominent businessmen in Fiji. We have a prosecuting arms of government. You have a Human Rights Commission people who are like snapping dogs at whomever is deemed to be an enemy of the Bainimarama Government and right under the carpet are these massive crimes which have been in people's minds like a cancer for the last 14-15 years where people were tortured to death. Five soldiers were taken from their homes, taken from police custody by the military and then they ended up dead that evening. And nobody in Fiji none of the prosecuting arms, none of the human rights organisations want to ask 'hey hold on where is the justice for these five people who were killed, tortured and killed without trial, judge or jury.
JO O'BRIEN: So why have you raised these issues now and particularly directed your concerns to the Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission?
WN: He is one of the people who has been adamantly attacking anybody who raises issues of indigenous rights and the need to have everybody equal before the law. I am directing these concerns to the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission, there is a judge who is now the Chairman of that commission and he of all people will know that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. And those five soldiers who were tortured to death did not ever go before a court of law. And I am putting it before the Director of Public Prosecutions because he also has been targetting people who are seen to be not sympathetic to Government and prosecuting and trying to bring people into line. So I am just simply writing that and letting the public know and the international media know that there is all this intimidation going on. There all these organisations posturing to be defenders of human rights when there is incredible breach of human rights right in front of them which is the loss of life of five people who were never taken to a court and found guilty of anything and they ignoring all that. So it is something that I am going to try and let Fiji people understand what is going on and of course the international media as well understand that there are these gross injustices that are going on by people in power and by people in power I'm referring to not just the people in the Bainimarama Government but also on one political party, the main political party, opposition party SODELPA, some of whom have been implicated in some of the inquiries that took place although none of the reports have ever been published.
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