Submissions were made by the Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde in respect to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Mr Pryde made the submissions to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in Parliament yesterday. Mr Pryde recommended the ratification of the two conventions, but advised against adopting the Article 41 declaration and the optional protocols.
He said the benefit to Fiji ratifying the treaties would be to signal its acceptance of international norms and best practice and to underline its status as a nation committed to the rule of law and respect for human rights.
“The voice and authority with which Fiji the treaties presents its views on myriad legal, political and diplomatic issues will be fortified in various fora when Fiji speaks as a State that has formally committed itself to these two international conventions.”
Mr Pryde said if a decision is made to ratify the covenants, Fiji would have to consider whether it would make an Article 41 declaration.
“An Article 41 declaration provides that the United Nations Human Rights Committee may receive and consider communications to the effect that a state party claims that another state party is not fulfilling its obligations under the convention.
“It must be understood this provision may allow other states who have deposited Article 41 declarations themselves to file communications (which are essentially complaints) to the UN Human Rights Committee. But it will also allow Fiji to make such communications itself against other States that have made an Article 41 declaration.”
He added that it should also be noted that Fiji had adequate redress mechanisms to deal with complaints that an individual’s human rights have been breached either through the constitutional redress provisions of the 2013 Constitution or with the assistance of the Commission for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination.
“Fiji has adequate institutions and laws in place to deal with complaints that Fiji is not fulfilling its obligations under the conventions and other human rights law.
“There are currently matters before Fiji’s courts that are dealing with a number of human rights law claims.”
He said the Article 41 declaration must not be made.
Mr Pryde added that although Fiji is yet to ratify the Conventions, Fiji’s Constitution already incorporates the rights contained in the Conventions in its own Bill of Rights.