|Pacific Media Watch|
Human Rights Commission concerned about media
Title -- 5313 FIJI: Human Rights Commission concerned about media
Date -- 21 February 2008
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- FijiVillage.com 21/02/08
Copyright - FV
Status -- Unabridged
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FHRC CONCERNED ABOUT MEDIA
SUVA (FijiVillage.com/Pacific Media Watch): The Fiji Human Rights Commission says political parties which promote racist speeches, policies and programmes can be prohibited from taking part in elections and be prosecuted under existing legislations.
The FHRC, in its submission to the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has highlighted Article 4 of the CERD Committee's General Recommendation to the interim government, which requires the state's parties to penalise four categories of misconduct:
1. dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred,
2. incitement to racial hatred,
3. acts of violence against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and
4. incitement to such acts.
In line with this, the commission recommends that relevant provisions in the Penal Code and Public Order Act be used in future to ensure that any political party that holds any racist ideas, or advocates any national, religious or racial hatred that constitutes to incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by law from taking part in elections.
The submission also states that the removal of state party's reservations to CERD would allow the Interim Government to implement its People's Charter in compliance with international human rights law on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
The Fiji Human Rights Commission believes that the proposed People's Charter may form the basis of a future development plan, which would assist in promoting a national identity in Fiji. In its report, the commission said it was concerned that meaningful efforts had not been made to develop a national identity for all citizens in Fiji.
The FHRC has told the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination that prior to December 2006, a national identity could not be developed due to largely entrenched racial separatism and segregation in government policy and programmes, and racial discrimination in areas of education and public service.
The commission's report to the CERD committee also raises concern that the media, which is mostly privately owned in Fiji, has not developed programmes to assist with building a non-racial and secular national identity.
It also said that the Media Council Code of Conduct prohibited programmes and advertisements that had the effect of promoting racial discrimination and discord but complaints to the commission showed that this was ineffectively monitored.
Communications Fiji Ltd [Ed: owner of FijiVillage.com] managing director William Parkinson said when important submissions were given to international committees like CERD, the report must be based on facts.
The FHRC said it was closely monitoring the People's Charter process in its role as an independent watchdog of rights in Fiji.
It had also informed the People's Charter Secretariat of the commission's monitoring role to ensure that the Charter complies with the requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
In its conclusion in the report to Geneva, the FHRC said it fully supported the interim government's proposal to remove all elements of racial segregation and separatism from the 1997 constitution.
PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. It is now published by the Pacific Media Centre at New Zealand's AUT University. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Programme at the University of the South Pacific, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG) and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. The website is hosted by the Association of Progressive Communications (APC).
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