Fiji’s
Universal Periodic Review Outcome was adopted by consensus by the United
Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, during its current 43rd session of the
Council scheduled to be held from 24 February to 20 March.

Fiji
was amongst thirteen other States whose human rights record was reviewed by the
Human Rights Council in November 2019, and whose UPR Outcomes were adopted by
the Council in the current session.

In
the ensuring discussion, a number of delegations took the floor to commend Fiji
for supporting a total of 207 out of 242 recommendations made to Fiji during
its review in November. Delegations specifically commended Fiji for its efforts
in the protection and promotion of human rights domestically, including Fiji’s
commitment to addressing climate change and integrating human rights in its
climate policies. All delegations that took the floor supported the adoption of
Fiji’s UPR Outcome.

A
number of other stakeholders including civil society organisations also took
the floor during Fiji’s adoption.

Fiji
was commended by civil society representatives for its commitment to
strengthening measures to protect victims against violence against women and
girls; its commitment to take actions specified in the recommendations made by
over 25 countries to address gender-based violence; and its commitment to
improve access to health services for vulnerable populations, including mental
health and sexual and reproductive health services. Civil society organisations 
also welcomed Fiji’s acceptance to  improving education and health systems
for special vulnerabilities of women, children and persons with disabilities.

Civil
society organisations highlighted that during the previous UPR, Fiji accepted
three recommendations related to the protection of defenders, and since then
conditions have approved. Nevertheless, civil society groups said that more
needs to be done to ensure an enabling environment for defenders and
journalists, including removing or amending specific legal provisions.

They
also highlighted the need for Fiji to enhance its efforts to combat acts of
discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI community and increase budgetary
allocation towards strengthening participation of marginalised

communities,
including persons with disabilities, in times of natural disasters.

The
head of the Fijian delegation, H.E. Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent
Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations Office and other
international organizations in Geneva, stated that Fiji placed great importance
on the universal periodic review process and appreciated the immense value of a
peer review which was constructive and informed by the experiences of other
States. Fiji was pleased to see that the number of States participating in the
review of Fiji had doubled since the second cycle review.

Ambassador
Khan also stated that ‘human rights is a catalyst for transformative change
and we recognise that the universal periodic review mechanism and process is a
vehicle through which such change takes place’.
 She emphasised the
role of this peer review process in helping States achieve progress and
furthering substantive equality and justice. Ambassador Khan stated that the
recommendations received during the UPR were strong and constructive, and that
these were important recommendations that would transform Fiji progressively
and help in the advancement of its human rights journey.

In
closing, Ambassador Khan highlighted Fiji’s appreciation of the constructive
recommendations of civil society and said that civil society had an important
role to play in the implementation of human rights nationally

She
acknowledged that Fiji had to work continuously on the participation of all
members of society in Fiji’s human rights journey.

She
said that  in particular, Fiji would do more work in integrating LGBTIQ
issues in the national human rights policy. In response to comments by civil
society on specific legislation, Ambassador Khan highlighted that Fiji had a
strong and vibrant judiciary, empowered under the Constitution to test the
relationship between rights and limitations, especially in relation to hate
speech. As a result, Fiji expected to see emerging domestic jurisprudence on
the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

Ambassador
Khan thanked all States which had participated in the review. She informed the
Council that Fiji had begun and would continue the important work of
implementing the recommendations and continued to count on the State’s support
in this regard.

Prior
to the adoption of Fiji’s UPR Outcome, the President of the Human Rights
Council put forward to the Council for its approval a decision to suspend the
current 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, as of 13 March 2020. This
decision comes in light of the various measures adopted by the Swiss
authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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