#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2006 Coup anniversary: International union body and Human Rights Watch letter to Bainimarama

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2006 Coup anniversary: International union body and Human Rights Watch letter to Bainimarama

Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
4th floor Govt. Bldgs., New Wing
Suva, Fiji
Email: pmsoffice@connect.com.fj

Re: Immediately halt ongoing serious human rights violations


Dear Commodore Bainimarama,

On the 5th anniversary of your assumption of power in Fiji, we urge you to immediately halt the ongoing serious human rights violations in Fiji and realize the promises that your government made at the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2010.

Five years after the December 5, 2006 coup d’├ętat, your government continues to deny Fiji’s citizens the right to take part in self-government through free and fair elections, as well as the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and free exercise of religion. The military and police have arbitrarily arrested and detained human rights defenders, including labor leaders and journalists, and others actually or perceived to be critical of the government. Four people are reported to have died in military or police custody and dozens of people have been intimidated, beaten, sexually assaulted, or subjected to degrading treatment.

At the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2010, Ambassador Peceli Vocea pledged your government’s commitment to improving its human rights record. Eighteen months later, your government has done little to address these ongoing violations, instead enacting increasingly abusive laws and using the police and the military to curb basic freedoms.

Public Emergency Regulations Threaten Freedoms of Speech, Assembly, and Association

The 2009 Public Emergency Regulations restrict free speech, assembly and association, and grant the military sweeping powers of arrest and detention. Your government committed to cease the monthly renewal of the Public Emergency Regulations in February 2010. You subsequently committed to lift the decree when the Media Industry Development Decree (Media Decree) took effect in June 2010. However, your government continues to renew the regulations. At this five-year anniversary of your rule, we urge you to take an initial step toward improving the human rights situation in Fiji by letting the Public Emergency Regulations expire and publicly committing not to renew them in the future.

Pursuant to the Public Emergency Regulations, several trade union meetings were broken up by police this year. On August 13, police broke up a regular meeting of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) after revoking its permit to assemble.The raid occurred just after members of the FTUC met with a high-level delegation of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which was in Fiji to investigate human and worker rights violations committed by your government. Since then, trade unionists report the existence of a de facto ban on all trade union meetings, as applications for meetings are routinely denied or simply never acted upon. As a result, union leaders are unable to speak to their own members, take decisions requiring meetings of executive committees, or even follow collective bargaining procedures prescribed by law.[3] In September 2011, police disrupted a social gathering of trade unionists, including Felix Anthony, General Secretary of the FTUC,as it was deemed a meeting of three or more persons without a permit.

On August 3, Daniel Urai, President of the FTUC and General Secretary of the National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism Industries Employees (hospitality union) and Dinesh Goundar, an organizer with hospitality union were arrested and detained overnight. They were charged with unlawful assembly under the regulations for having held a union meeting to prepare members in the hotel industry for collective bargaining. A trial on those charges has yet to commence.

On July 1, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement’s internal planning meeting was shut down by police. After the incident, the police acknowledged that a permit for the meeting was not required.

This practice has similarly been used to stifle the activities of religious groups perceived to oppose your government. While groups are required to attain a permit for a religious gathering, the terms of this provision and its requirements are applied and enforced arbitrarily. In August 2011, after approving the necessary documentation for the Methodist church’s three-day annual conference, the police cancelled the conference. The church has been forced to cancel its last three annual meetings. The police have limited the church’s gatherings to Sunday and enforced travel bans on church ministers who wish to travel abroad for church related meetings.
 
Abuses by Security Personnel

On November 4 , 2011, the police arrested Felix Anthony. This arrest followed the October arrest of Daniel Urai following his return from the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting in Australia. On November 7, Urai was officially charged with “inciting political violence by urging to overthrow government.” Urai was released on bail and Anthony was released without charge, following an international campaign urging their release. The trial of Urai is expected to commence in 2012. Both leaders have been banned from travelling outside Fiji, and Urai is subject to a curfew that restricts his freedom of movement within Fiji.

The military had previously detained Anthony on February 12, 2011. According to trade union officials, military officers took Anthony from his home to military barracks in Lautoka, where he was interrogated as to whether he knew of any attempts to overthrow the government and whether he supported the current regime. On February 18, military officers told Felix Anthony to meet the prime minister at a sugar mill in Ba, together with two other union officials. Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, the military officers beat the union officials for roughly two hours. The union officials were ordered to drive to Namaka military camp and were reported to have been beaten again by military officers for roughly another two hours.

On June 22, 2011, immediately following the 100th International Labor Conference, two military officers allegedly beat the president of the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union - Ba Branch. The officers demanded that he submit his resignation from the union by 3 p.m. the next day and threatened further abuse.

On February 21, 2011, the military detained and allegedly physically assaulted politician Sam Speight. A former cabinet minister in the deposed Qarase government, Speight was held for three days in detention and was reported to have been badly beaten.

Media Freedom Curtailed
 
Your government has consistently sought to limit public criticism through aggressive censorship of the press. Your government asserts control over published media content, keeping government censors in news rooms and punishing journalists for material deemed anti-government.

The 2010 Media Decree strengthens the state’s mechanism of censorship, restricting foreign media ownership and forbidding publications which are “against public interest or order, against national interest, offends good taste or decency, or creates communal discord.” Repercussions for such material include hefty fines and or jail time. Additionally, the decree requires domestic media outlets to be at least 90 percent locally owned. This provision was widely seen as targeting The Fiji Times, which is owned by News Limited, and its editor, Netani Rika. Long perceived by the Ministry of Information as anti-government, Rika left the Times after the passage of the decree under what many viewed as targeted pressure from your government.


Unilateral Labor Law Revisions Eliminate Most Labor Rights

The Fiji government has issued several decrees that sharply curtail fundamental labor rights in both the public and private sectors. Some of the decrees also eliminate all access to judicial review and redress for past, present, and future violations of those rights or to question the legality of the decrees themselves. These sweeping changes were made without any prior consultation with the relevant trade unions. These decrees include: State Services Decree of 2009; Administration of Justice Decree of 2009; Administration of Justice (Amendment) Decree of 2009 (Decree No. 10); Administration of Justice (Amendment) Decree of 2010 (Decree No. 14); Trade Disputes Decree of 2009 (Decree No. 10); Employment Relations Amendment Decree of 2011 (Decree No. 21); Public Service Act (Amendment) 2011; and the Essential Industries Decree of 2011.

On May 16, 2011, your government promulgated the Employment Relations Amendment Decree which amended the Employment Relations Promulgation of 2007 to exclude all public service workers from the scope of its’ coverage. Thus, roughly 15,000 workers in Fiji’s public service were divested of their important labor rights available under that law, such as collective bargaining and the right to strike, overnight.

On July 29, the government promulgated the Essential Industries Decree, which divested most private sector workers in key industries of their rights. As explained by the ILO Director General Juan Somavia, the decree has “very far reaching implications” including the “ending of existing collective agreements, the designation of new bargaining agents which may not be trade unions, and the possible imposition of compulsory arbitration of disputes and other limits on the right to strike.” Implementing regulations issued on September 9, 2011 subsequently designated the finance, telecoms, civil aviation, and public utilities sectors as essential and purports to allow the military government to include any other industries as and when it wishes.[11]

Together, these decrees are widely viewed as a direct attack on the independent trade union movement, among the strongest voices in Fijian civil society.

In the five years since you assumed power through extra-constitutional means, few steps have been taken to restore the right of Fiji Islanders to participate fully and freely in the governance of their own country. Rather than embracing the important role that civil society, human rights defenders, and trade unions play in good governance, your government has systematically repressed such groups. As international human rights, labor, and press organizations, we urge you to commit publicly to your international human rights obligations and take all necessary measures to protect human rights in Fiji. We urge your government to:
  •     Immediately repeal the Public Emergency Regulations – as your government has undertaken to do on several occasions;
  •     Repeal the Media Industry Development Decree, remove government censors from news rooms,and encourage international press organizations to work with the Fiji media to establish a mechanism for self-regulation;
  •     Revise all labor decrees, including the Employment Relations Amendment Decree of 2011 and the Essential Industries Decree of 2011, through a tri-partite process, to ensure compliance with your international obligations to the ILO;
  •     Publicly order security personnel to uphold human rights, in particular fair trial and due process rights, the prohibition on torture, and the right to free assembly and association;
  •     Investigate and prosecute all security force personnel who engage in arbitrary arrest and detention, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, and physical abuse of detainees; and
  •     Publicly commit to an expedited timetable for elections, implementing the right of all Fiji Islanders to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives and to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections.

Sincerely,

Brad Adams
Asia Director
Human Rights Watch

Sharan Burrow
General Secretary
International Trade Union Confederation

Jim Boumelha
President
International Federation of Journalists

Mary Lawlor
Director
Front Line Defenders

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

They can keep writting and visitiing fiji.
Baini is on the right track and does not need to be scared of the bullies from australia.
Baini ,you have done what so many leaders could not do.
Keep up the good work.
You will be successful in your outcomes which is and will continue to benefit sll.

Anonymous said...

@ ANON 9.09.....WHAT HAS BAINI DONE THAT BENEFITS THE COUNTRY AND ITS CITIZEN?????? DO YOU THINK THAT ALL THIS THINGS STATED ABOVE IS WHAT NO OTHER LEADER HAS DONE.....TORTURE, INTIMIDATION ETC....I THINK YOU MUST BE A CRAZY MAN FOLLOWING A BLIND PERSON....

Anonymous said...

Media censorship is only found in corrupt countries. Fiji is very corrupt. Do not visit Fiji and do not buy anything from Fiji.

Bob Lee Swagger said...

Anon 9:09AM. You've been blinded by hatred...calm down and see reality. Fijians are suffering irrespective of race. And they're suffering because of Bainis cowardice!!

Radiolucas said...

@ Anon 9:09

As usual - you kalavo have no idea about what "good" is anymore - all you think is that by repeating the same bullshit might make it come true.

It doesnt work - the past five years are a sad indictment of that fact.

SEMI MEO said...

Oh boy..oh boy...just another ploy by these wealthy Unions and Journs to justify existence and show their respective funders the nothing they are harping about…5 long year…nothing…noithing nothing have they done…of course, a few letter here and there, a few shouts from the side line, a few ill planned ambargo.. but nothing!!

..meantime..Fiji's Bainimarama/Teleni's regime moves on!..and they have nothing…nothing they can do about it…nothing..now or in the next 5 years…nothing!!!

In other words..it is back to us Fiji Citizens to solve our problem..us, yes..us..NOT them!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.09am is just a Bainimarama lackey - a YES person with a VERY BROWN NOSE who sticks it up you now where just to get favours! Fiji is WORSE off than ever. How can you say Bainimarama is doing good when he is going to cut the retirees pension in half! My sister-in-law wouldn't be able to survive her pension if that were to happen. Let Bai and Aziz live on the average pensioner's salary for a month and see if they can survive!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9.09. Either you are from St Giles or you are related to Baini and enjoying some of his perks, Drau vei cai!

Anonymous said...

@ anon. 9.09. Franks balls are suffocating you!..Try and get some fresh air so you can see and think properly,

Anonymous said...

This Letter of Concern should have come in early 2007. Why now? The damage has been done and all democratic institutions have been descrated by these criminals and their shallow minded supporters. Let's HOPE that finally the world is taking a serious look at the violation of human rights in Fiji. But let me remind the people living in Fiji today that because you are spiritually weak and have decided to chicken out rather than standing up and face EVIL that other strong spirits around the world are coming to your aid. The question then becomes what should a REAL Christian do in a time of crisis like Fiji is facing today? Follow the path of Jesus or Pontius Pilate?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9.09am

Do you really know what you are saying? The letter from ILO details the crimes that has been committed by this illegal, unelected regime! Would you comment on each of the crimes listed in the letter how they reflect on "the good work done by Bainimarama..."?

Either you are not all there or simply a puppet of Bainimarama and a member of the illegal military forces. I do not think that you are a one of the loyal citizens of Fiji.

Anonymous said...

WHAT A WASTE OF INK ,,,ALL SUCH LETTERS GO INTO THE BIN.......ONLY A BULLET WILL BE BETTER UNDERSTOOD

Anonymous said...

I think you have been blinded by the coomenta of yhe losers.
Baini will remain the hero irrespective of yr childish thoughts.

mark manning said...

What is the point in writing a letter to Frank Bainimarama, when he can't even read and has no understanding that High Treason is illegal, in any mans language ?

Anonymous said...

Baini is not a hero! He's scared stiff! Why is he having dozens of bodyguards around him?

Anon 3:30pm.

After your hero-worshipping him when truth will finally be manifest and the tides turn against him, you will be confessing you had not regarded him as a hero.

He will beat you in the dash down the cassava patch! lol...

Animal Farm... said...

Decision by Committee.
Least it only takes 4 of them to write an angry letter.

Here's one for Ms Burrows.

Call a rank & file meeting of refuellers in all 3 AUS eastern seaboard airports - give them the facts about whats going on & recomend a boycott of all Fiji bound flights - see what they say? Then wait & see if anybody in current gov bothers backing (remembers)you?
But then again maybe spoiling the plans of thousands of AUS Xmas holiday makers to a location where the goverment kills & tortures people could be deemed too politically sensitive?

Anonymous said...

Baini is not a hero! He's scared stiff! Why is he having dozens of bodyguards around him?

In addition to this, Bainimarama the illegal PM orders his bodyguard to sleep on the hotel bed prepared for him while he sleep on the floor....such is the undecorated illegal PM of Fiji.

Does that shed some light to Anon 9.09?????

Anonymous said...

@3.30pm.....no...no...no...there is no childish thots my dear.....people r just expressing their opinions over this regime.....the locals r suffering you see.....how much worse it is for those who r living below poverty line 2dae.....and my thots goes to them after all is happening....am sure ur pockets is filled up to the max and that is why you have nothing against this regime....all who had previously run the government go corrupt as well as the government of the day....and life was normal and better than.....PEACE BE IN FIJI!!!

Anonymous said...

No media freedom yet his piglets are allowed to show off their pig of a father's doings through lachecklist style. check out their Facebook pics, no shame at all!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry anon@9:13pm... Bai does not sleep on the floor anymore but in the bathroom or inside the closet.But no matter where he sleeps, the poor
ass snores like a Pig! Despite his bodyguards attempts, to keep the poor guy safe, his snoring is causing a lots of headache for everyone! Recently the AG ordered Bainimarama,look-alike face-mask from China, but the Chinese made the masks, all in Chinese facial expression mode!Now all his Bodyguards, are required to wear the mask, when they go to sleep in his bed.Hey the man is safe with the Chinese technology.However,some
guards are complaining that they can't take the PM farting anymore & during his sleep, since it smells pretty
rough?Some has asked for transfer but the AG is worried, that they may
give away the security secrets?he has however,gave them a pay raise in the last national budget.

Anonymous said...

Trade unions from Australia, turn around and go back down-under and help urgently the tourism and hospitality industry in your country by resolving the industrial dispute with qantas... You have not only crippled the industry but every other business that depends on it. And we will show some respect.

Anonymous said...

Mark Manning sorry to disappoint you but Bainimarama did go to school & complete Hight School at that.Contrary to what you my have being told! As for going to school there are cases of many Indigenous persons in Australia holding positions of Executives who never completed class 4 don't see you moaning and groaning about that. Year in year out you see the Organisations they lead running at a complete loss-the latest i recall was in Queensland-where they paid the CEO close to $100,000 to run a Medical Clinic and the only quals she has is an Assistant Nurse! Mother if i recall is Chairperson and all Family members sitting on the board! How many completed High School Mark- abig fat ZERO according to the information going around?

Annon 1. said...

@ Anon 4:45.

Maybe so but unlike Bainimarama and his motley crew that Qld woman hasn't tortured and murder anybody.

Anonymous said...

As someone mentioned earlier the letter of CONCERN SHOULD have been written in 2006-its now 5 years, why don't we just wait for the NEXT Elections-don't see the Aussie Govt doing a thing of any value!

Anonymous said...

Despite what people say I beg to differ I feel the current adm has done a marvelous work in re-distribution of resources to the rural area, providing the much need work to the people by inroducing legislations, now after a lond period there will be a pay rise of 3 percent and the reduction of the percentage payment of PAYE from 31 to 20 to 18 and a further 7 percent for the low scale income earners, job evaluation payout to the security forces the medical personnel receiving a payout as well of 3 to 6 percent.
Many maight say that tere is an increase in inflation in all goods and services but hey to put it in perspective, which country around the world does not have an increase in price of goods and services, after all we do not have all the resources therefore most of the things we use in Fiji are imported so we have to pay a price for them, students are getting a free bus fare voucher this will reduce the number of students absenting them selves from school, the yellow ribbon campaign giving a second chance to the prisoners, communication network have now reached the rural settlement and the outer islands. These are some things the previous admin has not done. Economic growth and GDP figures may not reflect what this government is doing but whoever comes after 2014 will certainly appreciate what they have done.
And those critics out there please look at the positive side of things and please no hearsay. To NZ and Aussie can we be allowed to decide things on our own...If do not assit us now these are other 1st world and the 2nd world countries ready to assist us. All the current govt is trying to do is correct the wrong of past govts, these past govts almost sold us to the dogs so to speak. The best GDP percentage was in 1999 and you can find out who was the Govt then but the other gOVT WAS SO INTO THEIR POLITICAL prowess and they forgot the people. So please just leave Fiji ALONE

Taukei. said...

@ Anon 10:48.
"can we be allowed to decide things on our own".

Could you please enlighten us more to who exactly is this 'we' your claiming to represent?
RFMF?
Fijians?
Indians?
Kai Lomas?
Rotumans?
Definately not the Taukei.
Vinaka.

Anonymous said...

@Dec10:10:48am. What are you trying to Justify?? The Crux of the matter...is they committed TREASON by overthrowing an ELECTED government...no mattter how they are trying to justify it. A coup is a coup is a coup.Period. Enough Essay wiriting. Just try to get that into your Thick half schooled brain

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 10.48 am

"can we be allowed to decide things on our own"

Yes pls Aus and NZ just supply us through RUM and JB some guns so we can decide things on our own.

Eventhough we are unarmed while they have all the guns these bastards are not content using our scarce funds to buy more arms from Indonesia, Korea, etc

Pls, pls, pls Aus and NZ give us some guns to even things up a little.