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Discussion goes deeper than march permits: Raj

April 12, 2021 4:31 pm

The Fiji Human Right and Anti-Discrimination Commission has urged the National Federation Party to stop misleading Fijians.

This is on the Commission’s stance on freedom of association, assembly, speech and expression.

Director Ashwin Raj says they had issued a clear statement in August 2019, and their stance remains the same.

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NFP Youth Wing General Secretary has written that the denial of a march permit for the Fiji Trade Union Congress is a breach of human rights.

Raj says there is a pressing need for a national conversation on upholding and balancing constitutional rights such as freedom of association, assembly and speech and the maintenance of public order and national security.

He says striking the right balance between these rights and the responsibilities is important because Fiji has a history.

The Director says in 2000, what started as a peaceful assembly and protest descended into violence.

Raj adds that in August 2019, while permits to march were rejected, the union, their supporters including politicians and academics were able to assemble in Suva, Lautoka and Nadi and freely express dissent without any obstruction from the police.

Raj adds such forms of peaceful assembly unlike a march does not pose security risks.

He has appealed to everyone to think of constructive ways of expressing dissent while also stressing that it is incumbent on law enforcement agencies to explain why permits are being rejected.

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