FWRM welcomes the recent appointments of the five commissioners for the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission and strongly calls for the Commission to be compliant with Paris Principles.
The Paris Principles or ‘Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions’ sets the international benchmarks that any national human rights institution must comply with.
The Paris Principles include a clearly defined and broad based mandate on universal human rights standards; autonomy from government; independence guaranteed by legislation or the constitution; pluralism, including membership that broadly reflects their society; adequate resources and adequate powers of investigation.
The credibility of the Commission remains questionable, as it has been defunct and suspended by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), since the political upheaval of December 2006. The International Coordinating Committee is the international body responsible for oversight of national human rights institutions (NHRIs). Fiji’s recent UPR review in October 2014 led to the State accepting recommendations, which focused on the re-establishment of the Commission to meet the standards set out in the Paris Principles.
“We urge the Commissioners to study these Principles and ensure that the Commission’s processes and procedures, its governing law and relevant Constitutional provisions fully implement the six core criteria of the Paris Principles. National human rights institutions are not only central elements of a strong national human rights system, they also “bridge” civil society and Governments; they link the responsibilities of the State to the rights of citizens and they connect national laws to regional and international human rights systems,” said Daiana Buresova, Chair of FWRM’s Governance Board.
Ms. Buresova further added that two legislative frameworks that govern the mandate of the Commission are the Fiji Human Rights Commission Decree 2009 and the 2013 Constitution Decree, which must be reviewed and reformed to ensure adherence to the Paris Principles. For example, Section 172 (5) of the Constitution Decree prevents the Commission from investigating any complaints for matters, events, or incidences that occurred prior to 21 August 2013.
FWRM reiterates that this governance institution plays a critical role in the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of human rights in Fiji.
FWRM welcomes the opportunity to assist the Commissioners in their new roles. One such important step is to generate and encourage public discussions on the importance of strengthening National Human Rights Institutions in the Pacific.
The first of these discussions will take place on Wednesday 20 May 2015, Japan ICT Lecture Theatre at USP from 6:00pm-8:00pm. This event is jointly organised by the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights.