Analysis | Politics

United States Should Look At Its Own Human Rights Record First

It wants Fiji to take measures to permit lawful labour, political, and social protests and to safeguard activists’ and human rights defenders’ rights to speak and peacefully assemble freely, without harassment, and unimpeded by inappropriately applied administrative impediments.
09 Nov 2019 12:10
United States Should Look At Its Own Human Rights Record First

Analysis:

Before jumping from its high horse to tell Fiji to safeguard freedom of expression by the media, the United States of America (USA) should look at its own record first.

The U.S made its recommendation at the Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations Human Rights Council

Human Rights Watch, set up in the 1970s to monitor human rights abuses by governments, says the United States continued to move backward on human rights at home and abroad.

It said President Donald Trump continued to launch public attacks on news media throughout 2018, including by characterising “a large percentage of the media” as “the enemy of the people”.

“His remarks prompted hundreds of media outlets to publish coordinated defences of press freedom in August.

“Journalists also experienced deadly violence and threats, including the shooting of five staff of an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper in June.

“Several Police efforts to monitor protesters, including people of colour, were reported or litigated during the year.”

US technology companies faced increased pressure from lawmakers to restrict speech on their platforms.

In April, a new law aimed at curbing online sex trafficking made websites liable for what users say and do on their platforms.

It also threatened to silence speech about consent-based sex work and other sexual activity.

The US recommends that Fiji should safeguard freedom of expression by ensuring that criminal and speech-related legislations are not misused to suppress media, civil society, and opposition politicians’ criticism of the government.

It also calls on Fiji to uphold freedom of assembly by ensuring that criminal statutes such as Section 15 of the Public Order Act are not used to curtail workers’ rights to form and join trade unions and to assemble.

It wants Fiji to take measures to permit lawful labour, political, and social protests and to safeguard activists’ and human rights defenders’ rights to speak and peacefully assemble freely, without harassment, and unimpeded by inappropriately applied administrative impediments.

But the US commends Fiji on holding free and fair democratic elections in 2018; for taking seriously its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture; and for hosting a forum earlier this year to share best practices with Pacific island partners and build momentum towards regional ratification and implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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