FHRADC calls for fair treatment

September 14, 2023 12:50 pm

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission says it has received reports from members of the Grace Road Church in relation to the manner in which some of their members were taken into custody by state officials.

Chairperson Pravesh Sharma says the FHRADC is concerned about the reports.

Sharma says Grace Road is claiming the use of force during detention, the denial of access to a lawyer while detained at the Suva Remand Centre, and the church being labelled as a cult.

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He adds that the church also claims that a member was also allegedly denied a visa to re-enter Fiji.

FHRADC says people awaiting deportation should be kept in immigration safehouses rather than at remand centres since they have not been charged with offences.

It adds that detained persons should have access to their lawyers and to other human rights defenders.

It further says Grace Road Church members facing deportation must be given the right to challenge their detention and deportation. They have a legitimate expectation that their rights will be respected.

Sharma says Section 13(1)(i) of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji allows detained persons to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court and, if their detention is unlawful, to be released.

He adds that the Grace Road Church members should not be deported until the final Appellate Court hears and determines the matter.

The Commission is also concerned over the use of the word ‘cult’ to describe the Grace Road Church, as the word can be viewed as derogatory. Section 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji ensures all persons the right to freedom of religion, conscience, and belief.

The Commission also urges government departments and state officials dealing with these matters to comply with the rule of law.

FBC News is trying to get Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua to comment.