Labour slams govt comment on racial discrimination

  • 2nd March 2005
  • 2005
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t is absurd that the Minister for Foreign Affairs should brush off criticism contained in the 2005 US Human Rights report with the quip that he can point similar fingers at the United States.

Instead of pointing fingers at the US, he and his government should be addressing breaches of human rights highlighted in the report and take immediate remedial action, Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said..

Racial discrimination has been practiced in Fiji since the 1987 coups but they have become blatant under the SDL government. There is discrimination in the allocation of State resources, employment in the public services, the issuing of tenders and licences, in education assistance and affirmative action programmes for the poor, to mention a few.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has also been highly critical of Fiji, pointing out 22 instances of discriminatory practices and calling on government to address them. The UN committee has asked Fiji to submit a progress report on this in 2006.

Polices that exclude on the basis of race have already begun to hurt us in terms of foreign aid. A high level of skills drain in all sectors is having an adverse impact on economic growth and development, as well as in the provision of health services and education for our children+.

Problems resulting from non-renewal of land leases and government’s insistence on converting all leases of native land to NLTA have resulted in a substantial decline in agricultural production. On the social front, hundreds of school children from poor minority communities are forced to drop out of school because of failure to access State assistance. The root cause of all this problem is State sponsored racial discrimination.

If these practices are not corrected, Fiji risks the stigma of being labled an apartheid State..