August 05, 2011

(Australian) Government condemns intimidation of Fiji trade unionists

Media release
Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
4 August 2011

The Acting Foreign Minister, Martin Ferguson, today condemned the arrest and charging of two Fiji trade unionists, including the President of the Fiji Trade Union Council Daniel Urai.

The unionists were charged under Fiji’s Public Emergency Regulations for holding a meeting with other trade unionists without a permit. Both have been released on bail and are due to appear in court on 2 September.

“This is another example of the draconian Public Emergency Regulations being used to restrict basic human freedoms. The spate of arrests and beatings in recent months are further evidence that this is a brutal regime,” Mr Ferguson said.

“Australia's acting High Commissioner to Fiji today met with the acting Permanent Secretary of the Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey Australia’s concerns about the safety of Fiji workers, and the welfare of the two trade unionists. The Acting High Commissioner made it clear Australia was watching developments closely.”

Australia is deeply concerned at the deteriorating situation in Fiji. Since 2006 the Bainimarama regime has abrogated the constitution; detained political leaders; sacked the independent judiciary; censored the media; and restricted meetings of civil society, including church groups.

Despite commitments to hold elections in 2014, it is not clear that the regime intends to make good on its promise.

The restriction of labour rights is part of a concerted campaign to curtail the human rights of the people of Fiji. The rights of workers in Fiji have been targeted through a series of decrees restricting labour rights, the most recent of which was aimed at essential industries.

Australia remains committed to the people of Fiji who are facing deteriorating economic conditions as well as restrictions of their human rights. Australia is the largest bilateral aid donor to Fiji. Our aid program for 2011-2012 totals $37.5m.

Media inquiries
    Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
    DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555

No comments: