Fiji: Cease harassment of trade unionists ahead of major ADB meeting

The Fijian authorities must immediately cease harassing and intimidating members of the Fiji Trade Unions Congress (FTUC), Amnesty International said today.

Intimidating union members is a brazen, shocking and embarrassing display of where the government's priorities lie.

Roshika Deo, Amnesty International's Pacific Researcher

The harassment is occurring ahead of the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which Fiji is hosting from 1 to 5 May. The FTUC has been planning to hold a peaceful protest on 4 May, while affiliate members are planning a nationwide strike on 3 May.

In the last couple of days at least ten Executive Members of the Fijian Teachers Association (FTA), an affiliate member of FTUC, were summoned by police for questioning one by one and threatened with ‘further action’ if they failed to attend. The Ministry of Education has also threatened teachers with further reprisals, including legal action, if they participated in the nationwide strike. The peaceful march in Nadi has been planned for Saturday, 4 May, although a police permit for it has not yet been granted.

“Police have used their regular stalling tactics to withhold a permit for the peaceful march planned for Saturday,” said Roshika Deo, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International. “The authorities have now escalated the situation by harassing trade union officials. They should stop these intimidation tactics immediately and grant a permit for the peaceful march planned this Saturday.”

“Calling in and intimidating union members for questioning is a brazen, shocking and embarrassing display of where their priorities lie,” said Roshika Deo. “While Fiji is a current Vice President of the UN Human Rights Council, it continues to violate the rights to freedom of expression and assembly at home.”