The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is disturbed by the recent conduct of the Fiji police in handling student and staff protests at the University of the South Pacific.

University of the South Pacific Librarian Elizabeth Fong was taken in for questioning at the Criminal Investigation Department yesterday morning for breaching coronavirus restrictions during a solidarity gathering for the suspended Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

She was released shortly after. Another staff Ilima Finiasi has also been taken in for questioning yesterday afternoon.

“Police intimidation against USP staff and students must cease.

The public needs to be reassured at this time during the pandemic when there are multiple job losses and families are struggling,” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.

“Instead, students and staff are being continuously threatened for airing their concerns around the VC’s suspension and other worrying allegations of corruption at USP.

This is not a great reflection on the state of our democracy and will only strain relations with our regional neighbours.”

The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions is not an excuse to curtail human rights, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

The NGOCHR calls for more transparency and accountability in addressing the issues raised by the USP student and staff.

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