FIJI: UN ‘misled’ over constitution as will of the people claim, says union

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MIL OSI Analysis – Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch

FTUC’s Felix Anthony … calls on the media to be more vigilant. Image: ACTU

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Item: 9173

SUVA (Fijileaks/Pacific Media Watch): The Fiji Trade Unions Congress has accused the Fiji government of “misleading” the United Nations Human Rights Council over the legitimacy of the 2013 Constitution, saying that a statement to the global body “borders on a lie”.

The congress national secretary, Felix Anthony, has criticised the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, over his statement in Geneva this week and called on the media to be more vigilant over “government propaganda”.

The FTUC statement said:

During the last hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council, one recommendation was that Fiji establishes a Constitutional Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the 2013 Constitution and carry out a national consultation to ensure that the Constitution is reflective of the will of the people. The Attorney-General responded and advised the Council that the Constitution that came into force on 7th September 2013 “is the expression of the will of the people” and therefore any amendment of the Constitution would only be conducted through the process stipulated under the Constitution whereby Parliamentary approval must be sought for a referendum.

The FTUC disputes this assertion as thoroughly misleading and borders on a lie. The expression of the will of the people was captured by the [Professor] Yash Ghai draft after more than 7000 submissions by people and organisations from around the country. This Government thrashed that draft Constitution and imposed the current Constitution on the people of Fiji. This fact is on record and no amount of government propaganda will change this. The FTUC calls on Government to demonstrate sincerity and honesty and not mislead the international community as this only brings disrepute to Fiji. This has become common knowledge and a serious problem which is also recognised at the ILO.

The provision to change the Constitution was the brainchild of the very people who run Government now. The AG is in a position to ensure that Parliament approves a referendum but will not do so. Instead he uses the excuse that the Constitution will not allow a referendum. He conveniently forgot to tell the UN that it was his regime that imposed such harsh conditions that it is almost impossible to change the Constitution without his concurrence. All for the sake of protecting those responsible for the coups and the atrocities that followed over many years and many of it criminal in nature. These atrocities include denial of basic human rights guaranteed under the UN Charter.

It is time that this Government is put under scrutiny whenever they make any pronouncements abroad. The FTUC also calls upon the media to be vigilant and seriously carry out its responsibility to ensure accountability and take to task anyone or Government and not just critics of Government. Sadly we do not see that today and partly so because we continue to live in a dictatorship and restrictions remain, despite elections and so-called democracy.

The FTUC calls upon the AG and his Government to call a referendum on the Constitution. If the AG truly believes that the Constitution is an “expression of the will of the people”, he should have no hesitation in conducting a referendum.

Similarly, the AG has advised the UN that Government MOU on the future of labour relations reflects the intentions of the social partners. He again conveniently forgot to tell the UN that the social partners disagree and its MOU does not address the real issues in regards to the denial of workers’ rights and the continued effect of the decrees he imposed that violate International Conventions.

Felix Anthony
National Secretary
Fiji Trade Unions Congress  72-03/15

NGOs slammed over ‘hearsay, not facts’ claims in UN human rights review

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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