Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Director Ashwin Raj
International human rights law guarantees everyone the right to highest attainable standard of health.
This obligates government to take steps to prevent threats to public health and provide medical care to those who need it.
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Director Ashwin Raj in a statement this afternoon explained that while we all have the right to freedom of movement guaranteed under the Fijian Constitution, these can be restricted in the interests of public health.
Raj says we can test whether a lockdown or a curfew is justifiable in a democratic society based on human dignity, freedom and equality.
In the context of Lautoka and Suva, Raj says there are pertinent questions to ask to better frame the importance of government’s COVID-19 response measures and that they are adequate.
The Director says is the requirement to stay at home initially in Lautoka and now Suva intended to meet a legitimate social need, the answer is yes in the interests of public health.
Raj says this is further supported by a written law to allow this, the Public Health Act and also that these steps are taken proportionate to the social need, which it clearly is to prevent widespread infection and save lives.
The Director says COVID-19 will have (and indeed has already had) a disproportionate impact on a broad range of civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights and our ability to realise these rights.
He says more than ever, Fijians must stand in solidarity in the face of stigma, discrimination, racism and xenophobia, carefully weigh our actions in the context of the rule of law, our human rights and freedoms and the responsibilities that come with it.
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Posted by FBC News on Tuesday, March 31, 2020