Friday, February 12, 2010

Lies by Fiji Delegates to UN on Human Rights

by Sai Lealea - 12 February 2010

Reports about Fiji's presentation to the UN on its Human Rights periodic review is sadly very revealing about the blatant disregard for basic human rights by the illegal regime in power today.

The gross distortion of the facts and the hurtful experience of those who suffered at the hands of the illegal regime have clearly shown how Fijian lives have been cheapened by the regime and its mouth pieces in Geneva by the lies they have broadcast in their presentations.

Sadly also is the manner in which the delegates have conducted themselves at such forum and is no doubt indicative of the culture now prevalent in sections of the Fiji public service contaminated by the inclusion of extremely unqualified military personnel.

UN presentation of Human Rights report is never a trivial matter. It is about telling a nation's story about its regard for basic human rights and the actions of the State in guaranteeing its practice on the ground. It can be a truly satisfying exposition if a nation is implementing the intention and spirit of the UN Convention concerned.

While in government in 2006, I was part of a similar NZ government delegation to present its report in Geneva. We had a good story to tell, not all rosy, but promising. I was tasked with reporting on Pacific peoples' outcomes in key sectors and government action in those areas. We had a good hearing at the session and questions were asked of us which we had to respond to right away while the UN committee was in session for those 2 weeks in Geneva.

On returning to our Government Embassy office, we had to get on to our colleagues back in NZ (during night time there) to get us the information we needed in order to have the response ready the next day. We all regarded the task as critical because it is about a nation's integrity and credibility in the eyes of the world body. Those qualities emanate from a personal commitment and integrity so you want to do your best for your department, Minister, government and nation (adopted for me).

After all, you have the NGOs there to challenge your version of the story so you need to be accurate and truthful.

Far from the Fiji regime's actions on the ground in relation to human rights, which we all know is excessively in the breach than observance and promotion, I am deeply saddened at the cavalier manner and attitude adopted by the Fiji delegates. They were no doubt between a rock and hard stone so to speak. No wonder Isikeli Mataitoga side stepped the task of presenting the report or defending it.

For the Fiji delegates, they now will be labelled as the ones who lied to the world about its human rights story and what a label to be carrying for the rest of their lives. Worse still for them, even their children will be blighted by such a label.

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