The United Nations Committee on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (CERD) has asked Fiji to explain its stand in regard to racially discriminatory policies and practices.
he National Farmers Union had submitted a report to the August 7 meeting of the CERD committee on discrimination in Fiji against non-indigenous peoples in particular the Indian community which comproses 44% of Fiji’s population.
Fiji had not submitted a report to the committee since 1984. When it met in Geneva on August 7 to consider the Fiji case, the SDL government made a hasty report to cover the period from 1984-2002.
While welcoming the return to dialogue with Fiji, the Committee observed that the report was “incomplete in many parts”. It asked Fiji to submit a completed report by 20 September 2002 which would be examined in the 62nd session of the CERD in March 2003.
In its report, Fiji has been told to submit detailed information on the following areas of concern:
- The social confrontation and economic decline that is reported to occur in Fiji, in connection with the alleged politically polarised race relations, in particular between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians
- The significance and consequences of the reservation and declarations formulated by the State party, in particular those relating to the implementation of Article 5 of the Convention and indigenous rights;
- The results, if any, of the Court challenge introduced in 2001 against the alleged ethnic imbalance in the Government;
- The alleged cancellation, in June 2001, of the charity status of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, a multi-ethnic NGO, after it filed constitutional challenges against the government in court.
- The Committee wants the State to provide more information on existing mechanisms provided in Fiji to address racial discrimination under both domestic and international law and on their accessbility and efficiency.
The committee has recommended that the completed report “be made widely available to the public from the time it is submitted to the Committee”.