July 30, 2012

ACTU wants Fiji democracy commitment during talks

Updated July 30, 2012 07:45:33

The Head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions says Australia's foreign minister must get a commitment from Fiji that it will reinstate human rights in its transition to democracy.

Senator Carr will meet with representatives from Fiji's military regime to discuss the country's constitutional review process.

Ged Kearney says Australia is planning to assist Fiji with $AU2.6 million dollars to help run the process toward democratic elections.

She says Senator Carr must send a clear message that Australia cannot support a process that is fundamentally flawed.

"In Fiji, any consultation with the public about a new constitution cannot take place if there is no free press, if people still cannot meet freely without a permit to discuss the constitution and if basic human rights are still being violated," she said.

She says the Australian public has a right to know that money is being spent on a process that is fair and free.

"This cannot happen without free press without the right to assemble, without basic human rights and that includes workers rights being freely accessed by the people of Fiji," she said.

Democracy talks
Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr is due to hold talks with Fijian officials on Monday to assess Suva's progress towards democracy.

Senator Carr and and New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully will meet with their counterpart in the interim Fijian Government in Sydney, as part of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group.

They are expected to discuss efforts to return to democracy and preparations for elections in 2014.

Slow progress on these issues contributed to the decision to suspend Fiji from the 16-nation group in May 2009.

New Zealand and Australia have both imposed travel and economic sanctions against members of Fiji's interim government.

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