Friday, 27 February 2009 10:54 AM

Proposal for Human Rights Body for Pacific

There has been a call from a human rights activist for the establishment of a human rights body for the region.

According to Fijilive, the human rights activist from Fiji, Imrana Jalal, made the proposal at the Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, which is holding an 'Inquiry into Human Rights Mechanisms and the Asia-Pacific'.
The parliamentary committee is tasked with looking at possible mechanisms which could be used to help prevent and redress human rights violations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ms. Jalal was part of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT/SPC) who made a submission at a public hearing held in Sydney at the New South Wales Parliament House last week.

According to the proposal, the human rights mechanism for the Pacific region must be established without the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand initially as they already have their own well-established human rights commissions. However, they might have the option of joining the body later.

According to the report, Jalal said 'such a mechanism must be an initiative of the people of the Pacific, however the goodwill and support of development partners and international agencies is critical'.

The Asia-Pacific region is the only region without a regional human rights mechanism and with Fiji being the only other Pacific country with a human rights commission, Ms. Jalal said that a "separate Pacific regional mechanism is important because it would be owned by Pacific Islanders who increasingly see their destinies as separate from Asia".

"A Pacific regional mechanism could also serve the needs of Pacific Islanders in ways that an Asia-Pacific mechanism could not, given the factors of distance and location and the costs of establishing a body for the entire Asia-Pacific area."

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province