NEWS

UN Special Rep Commends Fijian Government

The FijiFirst Government’s policies on education which have led to inclusiveness have been commended by United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,
13 Dec 2016 11:00
UN Special Rep Commends Fijian Government
From left: United Nations Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere and Thierry De Prado at the UN press conference at GPH yesterday. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai

The FijiFirst Government’s policies on education which have led to inclusiveness have been commended by United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere.

Government’s introduction of Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) and National Toppers’ scholarship scheme received special mention by the special rapporteur.

In a press briefing yesterday he said: “I commend this Government policy of inclusiveness which has resulted in a comprehensive reform of the education system, and in particular the end of the practice of separate ethnic schools and the policy of enhancing the accessibility of education at all levels through substantive aid and scholarship programme based on merit and financial needs.

“I am particularly impressed by the policy of teaching conversational Hindi and iTaukei languages to students at a young age, which can only improve community relations and help promote a sense of inclusiveness for all citizens.”

Mr Ruteere acknowledged that Fiji’s history has been significantly shaped by its colonial past and that the country has experienced political instability.

“I have noted that Fiji is addressing that past by putting into place new institutions, law and in 2013, adopted a new Constitution.”

He said that he had been informed in the numerous discussions that although Government has taken a clear and unequivocal stance against any form of hate speech and racial vilification, whether in the media, in Parliament or in public, such messages remain strong in the internet and social media.

”Ï recommend that any measures to address racial and ethnic incitement on the internet be designed and implemented from a multi-stakeholder approach while keeping with the provisions on international human rights law and in particular the protections on freedom of expressions and opinion.”

He has called on political leaders of all parties to work together to address the issue of reconciliation.

“While appreciating the history of instability that the people of Fiji are working to put behind them, I am concerned that the space and opportunities to constructively discuss issues of ethnicity and race within society at large is quite limited.”

And, Mr Ruteere has once again called for Fiji to gather race and gender based data- a policy that Government is not in favour of, given the tendency for such data to be politicised.

He undertook a visit to Fiji at the invitation of the Government earlier this year where he met with various Government officials, NGOs; faith based organisations as well as community members in which they discussed issues of racism and anti-discrimination.

Edited by Jyoti Pratibha

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj


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