Media release: Attorney-General meets with High Commissioner of the UNHRC The Attorney-General, Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, met with the High Commissioner for the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Council, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein on 17 March 2015. Accompanying the Attorney–General was the Honourable Chief Justice, His Lordship Anthony Gates and the Permanent Representative to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva her Excellency Nazhat Shameem Khan. The High Commissioner welcomed the Fijian Delegation and commended Fiji’s successful Universal Periodic Review process and the approval by the Fijian Parliament to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture. He also commended Fiji for the complete abolishment of the death penalty. The Attorney-General informed the High Commissioner of Fiji’s broad approach in the application of human rights and how the 2013 Constitution has for the first time created a comprehensive and very progressive Bill of Rights which allows for the concomitant realization of socio-economic and civil and political rights. “In the realization of these rights, the Government is committed to building strong institutions and a responsible human rights culture”, said the Attorney-General. The Chief Justice raised issues concerning the lack of assistance from development partners in the past in areas such as video recording of suspects and the training of judges and lawyers to further develop robust human rights jurisprudence in Fiji. He also highlighted the fact that it was the current government that has addressed the issue of overcrowded remand centers and prisons that meet international standards, a matter that was ignored by the previous governments. Discussions were also held regarding the Fijian Government’s recent consultations with employee-employer groups that fall under the ambit of the Essential National Industries Decree and the need to hear from these groups directly rather than simply umbrella bodies. The High Commissioner said that Fiji can be a model for the rest of the Pacific in overcoming political turmoil and in pushing the human rights agenda. The High Commissioner reiterated the UN’s support in all aspects including providing technical assistance for the resourcing of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission. The High Commissioner welcomed the invitation to Fiji by the Attorney-General.

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