Human Rights, Typhoid Update, Mining in Vanua Levu, Service Charter, Murdoch Press in Trouble, Bond Repayment, Tourism Up
JUDICIARY AND HUMAN RIGHTS. Fiji has informed the UN Human Rights Council that its judiciary is independent from political interference and all citizens have the right to a fair trial. Fiji will not revoke the Human Rights Decree, as urged by the Council's review team (that was concerned about the Public Emergency Regulations, the Media Decree, the judiciary and the return to parliamentary rule) because "it is the only legislation in existence that ensures by law the continued existence of the Fiji Human Rights Commission. Government is committed to implement the Human Rights Decree and to fill vacancies that continue to exist mainly due to travel restrictions currently imposed by a few of Fiji’s neighbors." Fiji accepted 97 of the 103 recommendations set out by the HRC on Feb. 11. Permanent Representative to the European Union, Peceli Vocea has asked for understanding of Fiji’s situation at the 14th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Fiji has a 10-year time frame to implement all Core Human Rights Conventions to ensure the safeguarding of the rights of its citizens.
Ambassador Vocea said “Fiji will hold elections in 2014. There is no negotiation on this time frame but Government is committed to fulfilling its reform in the lead up to 2014.” He asked for better understanding of Fiji's unique situation. UN support can be a vehicle "for marshalling wider support to address more urgent and pressing social human right issues [such as] the right of a child to have access to quality education, proper medical care services and proper infrastructure. Effectively addressing these issues would go along way to creating a lasting, stable and healthy environment," he said.
ON WITH THEIR HEADS. The death penalty for civilians has been removed from the Criminal Code and now Government is considering removing the penalty for military offenders. This was the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Periodic Review Committee. The military has never exercised the death penalty.
TYPHOID UPDATE. The outbreak seems still confined to inland Navosa where 190 people have been diagnosed with symptoms and treated with antibiotics and over 4,000 vaccinated. The death toll is unchanged at three. Health authorities and aid agencies are now focusing on improving water supplies with plans to bore holes and install tanks in the more remote villages. Inspections and the public health emergency will continue for another month.
LOOK NORTH POLICY. Government is welcoming new business ventures that will boost economic activity in Vanua Levu. Northern Division. The focus will be on utilizing and maximizing the island's significant natural resources in the interests of resource owners.
Among developments are the Mount Kasi Gold Mine, closed in the late 90’s, in which a Chinese company is now investing in the mining project. The mine is expected to export between 400,000 and a million tonnes of bauxite (used in making aluminium) in the next twenty years. The mineral will initially be exported for processing to China. When another development -- geothermal electricity at Savusavu or Labasa -- comes on line it is hoped to build a local bauxite processing plant. There are also possibilities for gold in Macuata and copper near Udu Point. Fiji is relatively well endowed in a number of minerals but has so far derived little benefit from these resources.
SERVICE CHARTER IS ABOUT SERVING PEOPLE. Fifteen years of public service reform produced no lasting impact on the Public Service. It is hoped the new Service Charter will change that.
“A Service Charter is a tool that outlines the key services and processes of the Ministry or government Department," says Deputy Secretary Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office, Filimone Kau. It is "like a contractual agreement of the ministry’s commitment in order to achieve its deliverables and therefore a much more satisfied public." The aim is to deliver services in an open, accountable, timely and efficient manner, and is an essential part of government's efforts to move forward.“ Fiji’s Public Service needs to display transparency and openness to the people through greater clarification of the roles of ministries.
MURDOCH PRESS PUT PRESSURE ON AUSSIE POLICE. Read all about it. Murdoch's News Ltd owns the Fiji Times.
GOT US$150 MILLION? Reserve Bank Governor Sada Reddy is worried about the US$150m bond, issued by the Qarase government in September 2006 and due for payment in September next year, but has assured an Accountants' Congress in Sigatoka that "Fiji as usual will meet all its foreign obligations whatever it takes.” RadioNZ International also reported this story but omitted Reddy's "Fiji as usual..." which one might have thought was the most important thing he said about the loan. Another "accidentally-on-purpose" omisson?
TOURIST NUMBERS UP. April saw the highest ever visitor arrivals, 44,496 this year compared to 39, 302 last year. Australia was up 19.6%, NZ 11.2% and the US 26.2%, China, Taiwan and India continued to grow, while Japan numbers dropped.