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The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2020/21. This report documents the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2020, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty lnternational’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others. During 2020, the world was rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic and measures taken to tackle it impacted everyone, but also threw into stark relief, and sometimes aggravated, existing inequalities and patterns of abuse.

Fiji Human Rights 2020

In 2020, the authorities continued to stifle criticism and restrict the right to freedom of expression. New allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by the security forces surfaced throughout the year. Some cases resulted in disciplinary actions and charges against officers involved. Women and girls continued to experience high rates of gender-based violence. Fiji’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic failed to protect or offer targeted financial support to women and those working in informal sectors, increasing the risks of poverty and financial hardship for already marginalized individuals. 

Background

The adoption of Fiji’s UPR outcome in March 2020 exposed gaps in human rights protection, including the need to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, protect the right to freedom of expression, and take further action to address gender inequality.1 Fiji continued to be particularly vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change, including rising sea-levels.

Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly

Fiji reported its first COVID-19 cases in late March 2020 and suppressed the spread of the virus by relying on restrictions on free movement and public gatherings, enforced by arrests and hefty fines.2

Authorities threatened to charge protesters at the University of the South Pacific after the Vice Chancellor was suspended for exposing corruption and misuse of funds.3 He was later reinstated by the regional university’s executive council.

In June 2020, trade union leader Felix Anthony was charged and appeared in court under the Public Order Act for statements made in support of workers’ rights.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In January 2020, Fiji notified the UN of its decision to withdraw the reservation made upon ratification of the Convention Against Torture in respect to the definition of torture. Reservations remained in place in relation to recognizing the right to compensation and the Committee Against Torture receiving complaints. Widespread immunities continued to exist under national laws.

In June 2020, four police officers were charged with causing grievous bodily harm for allegedly throwing a man off a bridge in Tailevu in April, with a fifth officer charged for interference with witnesses.

Four former prison officers claimed in May that the Prisons Commissioner directed or ordered the torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, including beatings, sleep deprivation and isolation. There was no investigation into these allegations by year’s end.

Violence against women and girls

Women and girls continued to experience high rates of gender-based violence in 2020. The authorities failed to take such crimes seriously.

A former national team rugby player convicted for rape and sentenced to eight years in prison in October 2019 was granted permission to participate in rugby training in July while serving his sentence. Women’s rights organizations condemned the lack of accountability and transparency and called for an independent investigation.

 

  1. Fiji: Address gaps in human rights protection before next review (ASA 18/1993/2020)
  2. Pacific countries must not use COVID-19 to regress on human rights (ASA 05/2144/2020)
  3. Fiji: Stop harassing peaceful protesters at the University of the South Pacific (ASA 18/2551/2020)

 

Fiji Newsroom



December 1, 2016 • Report

Beating Justice: How Fiji’s Security Forces Get Away with Torture

Under the military’s dominance, the Pacific island nation of Fiji has seen an ingrained culture of torture take root among its security forces, a new Amnesty International report says today.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 20, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Fiji 2013

REPUBLIC OF FIJI Head of state President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau Head of government Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama People's rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be restricted …

June 3, 2016 • Press Release

Fiji: Suspension of parliamentarian underlines government stranglehold on freedom of expression

The Fijian parliament must overturn the suspension of an opposition MP for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

September 4, 2013 • Press Release

Fiji’s New Constitution Fails to Protect Fundamental Human Rights

Fiji’s proposed new constitution falls far short of international standards of human rights law and is another step backwards in guaranteeing human rights protection for all.

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