The United Nations Committee on Racial Discrimination (CERD) wants the Fiji Government to address areas of discrimination against Indians and other minority groups.
The Commitee met in Geneva from March 11-12 to examine the Fiji case and issued its concluding last week-end.
- It expressed concern at the under-representation of Fiji-Indians in the police, army and other public services in general and recommended that specific programmes be adopted to ensure appropriate representation of all ethnic communities in those services.
The committee has asked for updated statistics to ensure that government complies.
- It expressed concern that hate speeches and assertions of the supremacy of indigenous Fijians regularly occurred. It urged Fiji to take appropriate measures in that regard, reminding the state that “dissemination of doctrines of superiority based on ethnic origin were socially unjust and dangerous, as well as in breach of the convention”.
- CERD also expressed concern at the damage to race relations caused by the 1987 and 2000 coups. It encouraged the State to address “perceptions that the government continued to politicise culture, identity and ethnicity to maintain indigenous Fijian hegemony.
- It expressed concern that that Section 99 of the Constitution which ensured power-sharing between ethnic communities through the creation of a multi-party Cabinet was not implemented by the government. But welcomed assurances by the State that it would comply with the Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
- On racial discrimination in general, the Committee recommended that government take into account relevant parts of the Durban Declaration against all forms of racial discrimination and on human rights and its Programme of Action.
The National Farmers Union which had made submissions to CERD on institutionalised racial discrimination in Fiji, has welcomed the conclusions of UNCERD and has called on government to address concerns it has raised.
It has also called on Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to apologise to the NFU and its general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry for a vicious attack it launched on the two at the last sitting of Parliament describing the NFU submission to CERD as “false, malicious and untruthful” among other things.