HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNED AT RE-IMPOSITION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY IN FIJI


14 September 2007



United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today she is very concerned over the reimposition of a state of emergency in Fiji last week.

Under accepted rules of international law, the High Commissioner recalled, such far-reaching restrictions of rights may only be introduced in time of a public emergency when the life and existence of the nation is threatened. Restrictions may only be applied to the extent and time strictly required by the situation and they may not be discriminatory in application.

The impact of the measures imposed in Fiji is heightened by the increased pressure being placed on the independence of the country's judiciary, the High Commissioner said.

Six expatriate Court of Appeal judges resigned last week reportedly to protest the acting Supreme Court Chief Justice's handling of the administrative matters of the Court. Extended delays are said to continue in the formation of an independent tribunal to hear the case of the removal of the Chief Justice in January. The High Commissioner added that the ability of truly independent institutions to function effectively and vindicate rights is indispensable, particularly in the current circumstances.

The High Commissioner also underlined the need for the Fiji Human Rights Commission to play an effective and independent role in addressing current human rights challenges in Fiji, fully in line with the international standards applicable to national human rights institutions, known as the Paris Principles.