‘Walk the talk’ human rights warning from Fiji NGO over UN chair

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Fiji's Nazhat Shameem
Fiji’s UN ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan ... "Fiji now faces global scrutiny on ... human rights obligations." Image: Wikipedia

Pacific Media Watch newsdesk

Fiji’s NGO Coalition on Human Rights has called for stronger accountability and commitment to human rights at home in response to the country taking the world stage as the head of a UN body.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) elected Fiji’s ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan as its 2021 president on Friday.

“As the president of the UNHCR, Fiji now faces global scrutiny on our human rights obligations,” said the NGOCHR chair Nalini Singh in a statement.

“This is a welcome opportunity for Fiji to reflect on our progress and the existing human rights concerns that need to be addressed.”

It was encouraging to witness a small Pacific island nation like Fiji taking the lead at a global forum and representing key regional human rights issues, she said.

“It is also a critical time for the Pacific and Fiji, as we see the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating human rights issues in the region.

Fiji ‘must act over justice’
“With Fiji’s new appointment, our government must act to ensure that human rights and the principles of equality and justice are upheld across all sectors,” said Singh.

A recent concern has been cases of alleged police brutality that have been raised by the NGOCHR.

The NGOCHR has reaffirmed that there must be “no rollback of human rights” under the guise of response measures and continues to raise concerns on the arrests of Fiji citizens during the nation-wide curfew.

“We are at the world stage taking a strong stance on human rights but we must walk the talk here at home and set the example,” said Singh.

Fiji’s selection as the President of the UNHCR is a step forward in the right direction and we must keep this momentum to foster a culture that promotes and protects human rights, justice and democracy.

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