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Commission receives numerous complaints from USP

February 24, 2021 4:55 pm

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission says it has and continues to receive numerous complaints in regards to the University of the South Pacific saga.

Commission Director, Ashwin Raj, says this comes after they wrote to the Department of Immigration and the Fiji Police Force on the 4th of February.

This was the day Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife, Sandra Price were deported.

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Raj says this was done to ascertain facts on the circumstances in which they were detained and subsequently deported and in particular, the allegations of manhandling as well as allegations made on social media.

However, Raj says despite accusations that the commission has been quiet on the matter, this is far from the truth.

He says the Commission has consciously refrained from making comments on the ongoing governance issues at the university as it is in receipt of complaints from aggrieved employees of the institution who have raised concerns.

This includes staff being pressured into signing petitions in favour of the Vice-Chancellor by heads of various sections of the university or face non-renewal of contracts.

There have also been allegations of unfair discrimination as well as victimization for speaking out because staff are considered either for or against the Vice-Chancellor along with claims of nepotism and unmeritorious appointments.

Raj says there are also complaints about lack of transparency and consistency in the application of policies and procedures in relation to appraisals and inducements and lack of confidence over the independence of grievance reporting procedures and mechanisms because heads of unions are openly biased.

He says all of these claims, whether made by Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife or the staff of USP against Professor Ahluwalia need to be independently investigated.

Raj says the Commission is conducting its investigations in accordance with the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Act, adding it will neither premise its statements on conjecture nor will it be swayed by commentary on the social media.

Raj adds the Commission will follow due process because of the institutional consequences of its work.

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