Forum Secretary General Deeply Concerned and Disappointed over Fiji
Monday April the 13th
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, has expressed his deep concern and disappointment at recent developments in Fiji since the Fiji Court of Appeal ruling on 9 April 2009.
“By clarifying the legal and constitution situation, the Court of Appeal had afforded Fiji the way forward by reasserting the rule of law and affirming the spirit of democracy. The Constitution is a document of the people, working for the people of Fiji. As such, it is the expression of their collective will and exists for their benefit and protection,” says Mr Slade. “I found its abrogation to be disturbing given its implications for human rights and the democratic aspirations of all the people of Fiji”.
Mr Slade adds: “The curtailment of media access and freedom of speech and, as already evident, the disregard for judicial independence are especially worrying. It is a matter of particular concern that these are occurring at a time when Fiji, like other Forum island countries, is being confronted with very serious and still evolving economic challenges as a result of the global financial crisis”.
The Forum Secretary General says rights and freedoms are safeguarded under constitutions underpin principles of democracy, justice, transparency and accountability.
“These principles remain fundamental Forum values which have served to unite Forum countries as regional neighbours and assist us through times of crisis. I am deeply disappointed that with the Constitution abrogated, there is now no assurance of commitment to an early return, through elections, to democratic constitutional governance for Fiji, as Forum Leaders have long been urging on the Interim Administration”.
The Secretary General would be consulting closely with the Forum Chair, and through him, other Forum Leaders, on what response the Forum will have to recent developments in Fiji.