NATION

New Human Rights Head Has Key Role To Play

Newly-appointed Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director, Ashwin Raj believes that the commission has an extremely important role to play in the development of a new Fiji that is
19 Mar 2016 10:18
New Human Rights Head Has Key Role To Play
Newly-appointed Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director, Ashwin Raj

Newly-appointed Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director, Ashwin Raj believes that the commission has an extremely important role to play in the development of a new Fiji that is built on the principles of dignity, equality and freedom for all Fijians.

Below is an extract of a set of interview questions and answers from director Ashwin Raj.

 

  1. You have a wealth of knowledge in human rights and issues surrounding human rights which has always been close to your heart. Is this why you applied for this post?

I have engaged on issues of human rights in various capacities as an academic, the chairperson of a statutory body, board member of a civil society organisation as well as an interlocutor to various international organisations.

I have an unwavering conviction for what I have called an “ethic of constructive engagement”.

It is important that we constructively engage, build and strengthen the capacity of independent national human rights institutions so that they can effectively fulfil their mandate.

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is such an important body empowered by the robust and salutary Bill of Rights provisions in the Fijian Constitution.

The Commission is obligated to protect, promote and preserve human rights and freedom of all Fijians while cultivating an ethos of responsibility.

 

  1. The Commission has been without a director for some time now. What are the biggest challenges you face right now?

The development of a strategic plan with an aligned annual corporate plan; the review of the Commision’s vision and mission statement to align it with the imperatives of the Constitution given its expanded scope; an independent capacity assessment of the Commission; review of its education and advocacy program including an independent review of its human rights pedagogy; the implementation of a fully automated complaints management system enabling access to all Fijians regardless of geographical constraints; and training of all Commission staff on key human rights treaties, conventions, national policies and key legislations is a major priority.

The Commission will work towards strengthening its relationship with key stakeholders such as the state including disciplinary services, civil society and the international community.

The Fijian Government, as required under the Constitution, has provided the Commission with adequate resources and funding in order for the Commission to discharge its duties effectively and independently.

I have had preliminary discussions with the UNDP and OHCHR this week and they have expressed keen interest in strengthening the Commission’s capacity through technical assistance.

The NGO Coalition for Human Rights has also indicated their desire to work in partnership with the Commission in promoting a culture of human rights in Fiji.

In subsequent days, I intend to schedule meetings with relevant state authorities including the heads of security forces and members of the civil society, Human Rights Standing Committee to further discuss and share human rights priorities particularly following the ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to ensure its full implementation.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj



Got A News Tip


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


WEET BIX
For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition
Subscribe-to-Newspaper