Truth and Reconciliation Commission to Address Ethnic Violence in Solomons

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

HONIARA, Solomon Islands – The Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission is open and will begin addressing the ethnic violence which killed 100 and displaced 20,000 in 1997 to 2003.

Today, several thousand people came to watch South African Nobel laureate and Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, open the Commission to the public. The Archbishop spoke at the opening where he encouraged the Solomon people to embrace forgiveness and peace.

On Monday, Prime Minister, Derek Sikua, announced the Commission members which included three Solomon Islanders and two foreign members.

In 1997, ethnic conflict almost destroyed the Solomon Islands. Australia led a peacekeeping intervention in 2003, but tribal tensions have persisted. The Commission was formed to address these concerns.

The Commission hopes that through reconciliation methods, the country might move away from its troubled past and embrace sustainable peace.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Solomons Truth and Reconciliation Commission launched – 29 April 2009

BBC News – Solomons launches truth inquiry – 29 April 2009

The Australian – Solomon Islands gets Desmond Tutu truth help – 29 April 2009

Humanitarian Disaster in Sri Lanka

By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The civil war between the Sri Lanka government and Tamil Tiger separatists is creating a humanitarian disaster.  According to aid workers, more than 100,000 civilians have fled the territory controlled by the rebel group while the Sri Lanka military blasted an earthen barricade on Monday.  However, another 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the war zone facing starvation.

“The civilian population in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-controlled Mullitivu coastal areas are faced with serious crisis due to the deliberate denial of food and other humanitarian supplies by the Sri Lankan Government,” the LTTE Political Office said in a statement.

News reports have showed the Tamil Tigers refusing civilians to leave, and they are shooting at those who try to escape.  Furthermore, the United Nations and the G8 have accused the rebel group of using civilians as human shields, and forcibly recruiting people to fight. The G8 called for a stop to the fighting to save the civilians.

The United Nations sent John Holmes, the U.N. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, to Sri Lanka to push for more protection for civilians.  John Holmes described the situation as “very dire” and called for a stop in the fighting to preserve of the lives of the tens of thousands of civilians. The U.N. Security Council urged the Sri Lanka government to allow a humanitarian assessment team in, but Colombo rejected.

The international community is deeply concerned about the rising death toll and reports of humanitarian law violations.  “The EU strongly condemns the killings of civilians and calls on all parties to take all necessary action to avoid further civilian casualties,” the European Union said in a statement.

Internal United Nations tallies say that since the end of January, nearly 6,500 have been killed in fighting. The flood of refugees threatens to overload the existing facilities, aid agencies have warned.  However, the rebel group has vowed no surrender and the government rejected calls to stop the fighting.

For more information, please see:

AP – Rebels warn of starvation in Sri Lanka war zone – 25 April 2009

BBC – Anticipating an end to Sri Lanka’s war – 25 April 2009

Reuters – ReG8 condemns use of “human shields” in Sri Lanka – 25 April 2009

Voice of America – Tamil Tigers Claim 150,000 Civilians on Brink of Starvation – 25 April 2009

Washington Post – U.N. dispatches top humanitarian to Sri Lanka – 25 April 2009

French Polynesian Workers Preparing Suit Over Nuclear Testing

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

PAP’ETE, French Polynesia– Tomorrow, a court in French Polynesia will hear a case lodged by eight former workers of French nuclear weapons testing sites in Mururoa and Fangataufa.

Moruroa e Tatou, the French Polynesian based association representing the workers, will represent the workers in the Pape’ete Court who will be judging the cases for the first time ever.  Of the eight former workers, three are alive and five will be represented by their widows.  The workers claim their illnesses are due to nuclear testing and are asking for financial compensation.

Moruroa e Tatou said justice should be swift because witnesses of the nuclear testing period in French Polynesia from 1966 to 1996 are now getting old.

Walter Zweifel reported, “The veterans association has described the court case to get compensation as historic and comes after last year’s admission by France that its tests in the South Pacific were not clean as it had previously claimed.  But after years of unsuccessful campaigning for recognition, there is continued mistrust among veterans.”

The group had asked for the proceedings to be filmed for increased transparency, but they were told there was not enough time to organize it.

French Polynesian President, Oscar Temaru’s party, has announced it will support the workers.

For more information, please see:
Pacific Islands Report – French Polynesian Nuke Victims Head to Court – 24 April 2009

Islands Business – Tahitian nuclear test veteran association getting ready for “historic case” – 27 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Nuke victims compensation case to be lodged in French Polynesia tomorrow – 27 April 2009

Fiji High Court Will Not Hear Government Cases for a Month

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – For the next month, the Fiji High Court will not hear any government cases says Fiji’s Solicitor General, Christopher Pryde.

Mr. Pryde says that, due to Presidential decree, certain cases can no longer be challenged in court.

“The existence of the decrees won’t be capable of being challenged in the courts, for example the first decree was the abrogation of the constitution and that can’t be challenged in court,” Mr. Pryde said.

On April 10th, Fiji’s President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, abrogated Fiji’s constitution and dismissed judicial members. There has been growing concern over the new court system’s independence.

Mr. Pryde, a New Zealand lawyer, lost his position after the abrogation of the Constitution. He has retaken the position of Solicitor General because he says it allows him to function more as a public servant and less as a politician.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – No government cases to go before Fiji High Court for another month – 26 April 2009

Fijilive – Fiji courts take shape today – 20 April 2009

Afghan Journalist Released on Bail

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, Afghanistan – Television reporter Fahim Kohdamani was released from detention in Kabul on April 19.  Human rights organizations call upon the release of pending charges against him, including defamation and insult.  He was arrested four weeks ago following complaint from an Iranian official.

Kohdamani worked for the privately owned television station, Emroz.  According to the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association, it was alleged that an Emroz broadcast expressed “anti-Islamic sentiments offensive to some Shiite clerics.

“It is deplorable that an Afghan journalist was detained like a criminal because of a complaint by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The public prosecutor and the government must resist foreign pressures that lead to the press law being applied arbitrarily. All Kohdamani did was criticize certain religious superstitions.”

Proof of the complaint lies in a letter that Iranian ambassador Fada Hossein Maleki sent to Afghan prosecutor general Mohamad Ehssagh Alko on March 23.  Maleki requested “legal proceedings” to be brought against the TV station Kohdamani works for, Emroz.  He alleged that Emroz insulted “senior officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and that these “suspect, separatist and insulting actions” should be dealt with under the Afghan criminal code.  The letter further threatened that relations between Afghanistan and Iran would suffer if prosecution was not pursued.

After his arrest, Kohdamani was interrogated by the Afghan prosecutor’s office about Ayatollah Khomeiny, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder. He was accused of criticizing a book written by Khomeiny.  However, Kohdamani explained that he did not criticize Khomeiny, personally, only  religious superstitions. He said, “In my programme, I combat the use of religions for personal or political interests.”

He continued, “I was not mistreated but it is intolerable that an innocent person should imprisoned with killers and traffickers . . . I am still awaiting another court summons  . . . and unfortunately, I cannot count on the Media Verification Commission as the conservatives on it are in the majority.”

For more information, please see:

IFJ – IFJ Alarmed by the Arrest of Two Journalists in Afghanistan – 25 March 2009

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty – Kabul TV Station Faces Officials’ Wrath – 11 March 2009

Reporters Without Borders – Emroz Channel Presenter Freed on Bail After Being Held After Complaint by Iran – 21 April 2009

PINA Pushes for Strong Stand on Censorship

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – The Pacific Islands News Association(PINA) has asked the Pacific Islands Forum to take a stand and demand that the Fiji military regime respect media freedom.

PINA has condemned the regime’s recent actions in censoring news produced by the regional news service, PacnewsPacnews no longer carries any stories of the Fiji crisis.  They also want a strong regional stand on what they have called “the ongoing flagrant abuse of democratic rights in Fiji.”

PINA President, Joseph Ealedona, says the group is calling upon Fiji President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, to restore media freedom for the sake of the Fiji people. Mr. Ealedona says the people are reluctant to criticize the regime due to the military’s intimidation.  Mr. Ealedona wants the region to focus on the Fiji ban during May’s Media and Press Freedom day.

Mr. Ealedona has also said it is very important that the regional body stays in Fiji despite the censorship.

“I think it is very important that PINA remains there and does not show to the interim regime that we are running away.  The media in Fiji needs PINA there.  As far as the situation continues like that we will remain there,” Mr. Ealedona said.

Last week, PINA journalist Pita Ligaiula was detained overnight for unfavorable reports.  A source has also reported that PINA has received threatening phone calls.  For now, radio transmitters that broadcast international services remain switched off, access to internet cafes has been limited, and interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has hinted that censorship will continue.

For more information, please see:
Nine MSN – UN ‘utterly hypocritical’ over Fiji – 22 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – PINA calls for strong stand against Fiji censorship – 24 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – PINA chief says it is important to stay in Fiji despite pressure from regime – 24 April 2009

Human Rights Watch Urges Pakistan to Go Back on Peace Deal with Taliban

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan –  Human Rights Watch calls upon the Pakistani government to withdraw its peace deal implementing Islamic Sharia law in the Swat Valley, located in the northwestern region of the country.  Human Rights Watch cites to violence among women and other basic rights.

President Asif Ali Zardari signed an ordinance on April 13, 2009 which imposed Sharia law and giving the Taliban complete control of the Swat Valley region.  This came about by way of the peace deal made on Februrary 15.  The parliament unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance.  Pakistani military have since moved out of the region.

“The Taliban are taking Swat back to the Dark Ages and the Pakistani government is now complicit in their horrific abuses,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.  “Tossing out the rights of the people in the tribal areas reflects abysmally on both the government and the Pakistani military’s ability to protect Pakistan’s citizens.”

According to Human Rights Watch, the Taliban have implemented their authority by summary executions, such as beheading, public whippings, and intimidation.

“The government defends this ordinance by saying that the officials implementing the law are still appointed by the provincial government and that they will respect the rights of women and others,” said Hasan.  “But the reality is that any official in the Swat who does not follow the dictates of the Taliban may be signing his or her own death warrant.”

Critics of the peace deal fear that the country is in danger of being taken over by the Taliban.

“They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody.  So we’ve got to avoid that situation,” said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sufi Mohammad, leader of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-Mohammad, a Taliban affiliate stated, “We hate democracy.  We want occupation of Islam in the entire world.  Islam does not permit democracy or election.”

“It is mind boggling that any elected, rights-respecting government would seek to partner with and cede control to entities and individuals to brazen in their rejection of human rights and constitutional rule,” said Hasan.  “Instead of being feted as allies, Sufi Mohammad and his allies should be held accountable for their crimes.”

For more information, please see:

Daily Times – TTP Says Osama Welcome in Swat: Taliban Reject Peace Accord – 22 April 2009

Human Rights Watch – Paksitan: Swat Deal Grave Threat to Rights – 15 April 2009

Reuters – Opposition Grows to Pakistan’s Taliban Pact – 22 April 2009

Human Rights Groups Call for Torture Prosecutions of U.S. Officials

23 April 2009

Human Rights Groups Call for Torture Prosecutions of U.S. Officials

By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, United States – A complete unclassified version of a report released by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday found that Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney gave explicit permission to use interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, a technique that Obama has recently classified as ‘torture.’ The report, titled “Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody” can be found here.

The report reveals that Rice, as national security adviser at the time, gave permission to the CIA to use waterboarding techniques as early as July 2002, despite her testimony that says otherwise. Rice went on to become secretary of state. The extensive 232-page report is said to undercut the claim of then deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, that the abuse of prisoners in Iraq was the work of “a few bad apples.” The report notes: “The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” With the release of this once-classified information under the Obama administration, the door is open for possible prosecution of members of the Bush administration.

The revelations against Rice, Cheney, and others in the Bush administration come just one day after Attorney General Eric Holder publicly stated “We are going to follow the evidence, follow the law and take that where it leads. No one is above the law.” Human rights groups have demanded that Holder appoint a special prosecutor to investigate since Obama has noted it is ultimately up to Holder to decide whether to proceed with prosecutions of those in the Bush administration who provided legal justification for torture.

Blind Human Rights Activist’s Wife Beaten

By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China – Nine men attacked Ms. Yuan Weijing, the wife of imprisoned blind activist Chen Guangcheng, as she was leaving to visit her family.  They punched and kicked her as they forced her back to her house.  The men are thought to be hired by local officials.

Yuan Weijing has been under house arrest for the past three years and seven months.  Her husband, Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught blind attorney, had been involved in investigation of forced abortions and sterilizations cases in China.  He was arrested in June 2006 on charges of “destruction of property” and “assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic”.  The Chinese court sentenced him in prison to four years and three months.

According to Yuan, she has experienced constant harassment by local authorities.  During the past three years and seven months, local authorities hired over 30 people to watch her, even when she was farming in the field.  Not only they have prevented her from meeting journalists and lawyers, she was also prohibited from international traveling.  In 2007, the local government prevented her from travel to the Philippines to accept the Magsaysay award on behalf of her husband.  The couple’s children are not permitted to enroll at school.

According to Yuan, she has been able to visit her husband only one time on December 31, 2008 since Chen’s imprisonment.   She says that Chen has had diarrhea since July 2008, but received no treatment.

Amnesty International called to stop the continuing harassment and attacks on Yang Weijing. Roseann Rife, the deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Programme, says that
“The continued virtual house arrest of Yuan Weijing is illegal. While national authorities are touting the new National Human Rights Action Plan, we see local authorities flagrantly violating the law in this case.”

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Wife of Chinese human rights activist beaten – 21 April 2009

Epoch Times – Blind Chinese Activist’s Wife Under House Arrest For Over Three Years – 21 April 2009

Time – Chen Guangcheng – 30 April 2006

Human Rights Watch – Chronology of Chen Guangcheng’s Case – 18 July 2006

Amnesty International Warns of Further Human Rights Abuse in Fiji

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Amnesty International says Fiji’s military regime has threatened the lives of two lawyers, and will continue to commit other human rights abuses unless the government’s power is checked.

Amnesty researcher for the Pacific region, Apolosi Bose, performed a two week fact-finding mission in Fiji. Bose found that two judges were verbally threatened on their cell phones when they tried to go to work after the abrogation of Fiji’s Constitution on April 10th.

Bose says that people are too afraid to criticize the government since the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, did away with the constitution, fired the judiciary, and censored the media.

“People received death threats on that day. There was a warning from people who were linked to the military or to the government, you know don’t do anything, we are now on a path for success and nothing you can do can will ever stop us,” Bose said.

Bose believes that, unless the military regime’s power is limited, further abuse will take place.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Amnesty International fears further abuses in Fiji – 22 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Amnesty fears for Fiji human rights as clampdown muzzles media – 22 April 2009

Politicians Pressure UN and UK to Stop Using Fijian Troops

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

WELLINGTON, New Zealand– New Zealand politicians are criticizing the United Nations for using Fiji’s troops for peacekeeping, claiming they are propping up the military regime.  Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, said the UN was assisting the military regime that has stripped citizens of rights and shut down freedom of speech.  Mr. McCully explained, “They sustain the interim regime both in terms of credibility and in terms of cash.”

Foreign affairs spokesman of the Green Party, Keith Locke, said, “The UN is helping fund Fiji’s military rulers by continuing to recruit Fijian military personnel for peacekeeping missions.”  Mr. Locke said there are 282 Fijian troops currently involved in peacekeeping missions, a number that has remained about the same since before the coup in 2006.

Mr. Locke continued, “It is deeply ironic that Fiji is involved in rebuilding Iraq.  Fiji’s military is more about destroying democracy than restoring it.”

He has also called on New Zealand to pressure other nations, such as the United States and Britain, to act on the issue.  Many former Fijian soldiers work for the United Kingdom and United States private security firms, and there are more than 2,000 Fijians serving with the British Army.

Phil Goff, New Zealand Opposition leader and former minister of foreign affairs and defense, also wants to pressure Britain and the United Nations to stop employing Fijian soldiers.  Mr. Goff says that after the latest developments in Fiji more pressure must be applied.

“It’s absolutely inappropriate to have Fijian peacekeepers trying to bring good governance in other countries in the world when the Fiji [military] has overthrown democratic governance in Fiji.  If the UN made that decision to send the Fijian peacekeepers home immediately that would impact very seriously on the military,” Mr. Goff said.

Mr. Goff says the same should apply to the Fijians in the British military.

For more information, please see:

3 News – NZ politicians criticise UN for using Fiji troops – 15 April 2009

New Zealand Press Association – NZ Politicians Criticise UN For Using Fiji Troops – 15 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – NZ opposition leader calls for UK and UN  to stop employing Fiji soldiers – 20 April 2009

U.S. Sponsors Torture Training in Uganda

19 April 2009

U.S. Sponsors Torture Training in Uganda

By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, United States – A recently-released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda” details U.S.-sponsorship and involvement in providing torture training to Ugandan security agents. The most recent incident of U.S. involvement happened in December 2008, under the Bush Administration.

The HRW report notes the lack of initative from foreign partners to address the serious human rights violations occurring in Uganda. It also argues that “[t]he Ugandan government’s use of unlawful detention and torture against terrorism and treason suspects violates domestic and international human rights law. And its unwillingness to take action against those responsible, particularly JATT (the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force), is a dereliction of the government’s international legal obligations.”

In contravention to domestic law, the Leahy Amendment (a provision of U.S. appropriations legislation prohibiting U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity), the U.S. provided $5 million in training to Uganda agents. Ugandan officials subsequently punched, whipped, caned, and used electric shock on hundreds of suspects. A HRW interview with Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Brigadier James Mugira, confirmed that Ugandan agents received training from the U.S.

The HRW report concludes: “Given the oft-cited allegations of torture and illegal detention by JATT and CMI (the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence in Uganda) by local and international human rights organizations, and by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, it is unclear how these individuals could have been eligible for U.S. funded training.”

Human Rights Watch is a major New York-based organization that documents human rights abuses around the world.
For more information, please see:

Black Star NewsU.S. Provided Torture Training to Uganda – Report – 19 April 2009

Human Rights Watch – Open Secret: Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda – 8 April 2009

Human Rights Watch – Open Secret: Role of Uganda’s Foreign Partners in the Military and Security Sector – 8 April 2009

New Judges to be Appointed Today for Fiji Courts

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Fiji’s interim government will begin appointing new judges today after Fiji President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, abrogated Fiji’s constitution and dismissed judicial members on April 10th.

A new decree has established the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the High Court and other courts as necessary. This decree has made it possible for a chief justice to be sworn in, as well as other judiciary members.

In addition, Fiji’s President has been given the power to establish the appointment of the Chief Magistrate, Master of the High Court, and other officers.

But there is growing concern over the new court system’s independence.

The new decree has eliminated the President of the Law Society from the group that decides the judicial appointments.

The head of the Law Society, Dorsami Naidu, believes that this decree will make it more likely that interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama will choose judges who are only sympathetic to his position.

For more information, please see:
Fijilive – Fiji courts take shape today – 20 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – New judges to be appointed in Fiji – 20 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Fiji’s interim government will today begin to appoint country’s new judges – 19 April 2009

Rights Group Demands Media Presence in Sri Lanka Stronghold

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
– Reporters Without Borders demands that the media be allowed to enter the northern part of Sri Lanka where the military and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are in the midst of a 20 year battle.  Because of the stronghold, tens of thousands of civilians are trapped between forces.  More than 2,000 are believed to have died.  Yet no confirmations on this estimation exist since journalists and humanitarian aid are prohibited from the area.

“With a major humanitarian crisis and war crimes clearly taking place, the government must heed the international community’s calls for a ceasefire and for better access for humanitarian workers and journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is a disgrace that this war is being waged without independent journalists present. And by preventing thousands of innocent civilians from moving freely, the Tamil Tiger rebels bear a large share of the responsibility for these crimes.”

It added, “By limiting media coverage to guided tours with the purpose of confirming military victories, the armed forces are preventing the press from doing its job and are disregarding the public’s right to be informed in an independent manner.”

The government said that only nine journalists had been killed and 27 had been assaulted over the past three years.  Private activists state that over twelve have been killed.  Human rights groups cite to Sri Lanka as the third most dangerous place for journalists.

The United Nations estimates there are still 100,000 civilians trapped.  Since the beginning of the war in 1983, government security forces have contained the Tigers to the coastal jungle of the Vanni,located  in the northeastern region.

The government has been accused of violating international human rights laws by shooting in their safety zones, even schools and hospitals.  On the other hand, the Tigers have been claimed to prevent civilians from leaving, using them as human shields and forcing them, including children, into their ranks.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Sri Lankan Media Ban “A Disgrace”: Rights Group – 11 April 2009

Reporters Without Borders – Call for Journalists to be Let into Area Where “A Major Humanitarian Crisis” is Unfolding With No Media Presence – 10 April 2009

Reuters – Short Sri Lanka Truce Over, Doors Open to Final Fight – 15 April 2009

Interim Regime Decrees Retirement Age is 55

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – The re-confirmed interim regime has decreed that Fiji’s retirement age is now 55.  The regime has ordered that any public servant over the age of 55 who is still working must retire by April 30, 2009.  The age applies to everyone in the civil service, the Fiji Police Force, and the Fiji Prisons Service.  The decree exempts top civil servants such as the Commander of the Military Forces, the Commissioner of Police and Auditor General, who shall retire at 65.

New Zealand Public Service Association national secretary, Richard Wagstaff, has said it is a “deplorable” move that discriminates against age and breaches fundamental human rights.

The retirement age in Fiji has always been left at 60, though Bainimarama had ordered the age reduced to 55 soon after the coup in December of 2006.  The decision was taken to court where the reduction to 55 was upheld.  The Court of Appeals then stayed the decision, effectively keeping the age at 60.  This new decree wipes out that Court of Appeals decision.  The decree also abolished the Public Service Appeal Board.

The government claims the decree was made to cut Government spending in Fiji’s rapidly shrinking economy.

For more information, please see:
Islands Business – Retirement reset at 55 and appeals scrapped – 15 April 2009

Radio New Zealand International – Fiji regime decrees retirement age is 55 – 15 April 2009

Fijilive – Fiji retirement age fixed on 55 – 16 April 2009

The New Zealand Herald – Fiji slashes retirement age in bid to cut costs – 17 April 2009