The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is deeply troubled by the recent events unfolding at the University of the South Pacific.

It is appalling to see the continued interventions and intimidation by the Fijian government and Fiji police at such a crucial time.

“We strongly believe that a sustainable and working democracy must protect and ensure good governance, accountability and transparency at all levels. This has been incredibly lacking in the past few days, as we’ve seen the removal of USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia and ongoing serious allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement,” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

Peaceful protests and solidarity actions have been organized within the different campuses in Fiji and the Pacific in support for VC Pal.

According to a statement released by the USP Student Association, police have warned against holding protests.

Fiji police have also served a search warrant to Fiji Times to acquire pictures that identified protestors.

This was reported in the Fiji Times today.

“It is appalling to see Police deny students and USP staff their fundamental right to Freedoms of Association and Assembly,” said Singh.

“There is also concern on how this impacts our regional relations as USP is a regional entity. This must be investigated by the relevant body without any heavy-handed intimidation from our government and the security forces.”

In all that is taking place around Fiji and the world, the government including the Police must ensure that the rights of all Fijians are protected including upholding and respecting the fundamental principles and values of Human Rights.

The NGOCHR calls on the State to stop this harassment of USP students and staff and ensure better accountability to ensure these grievances are met.

The Police must also work within human rights standards and any form of intimidation is unacceptable.

The Coalition holds freedom of association and assembly dear to the realization of Human Rights.

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