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Fiji: Drop baseless charges against trade unionist

Responding to news that trade unionist Felix Anthony has been charged with breaching the Public Order Act, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

“These baseless charges are a new low for the authorities. Only last week the International Labour Organisation (ILO) called on the Fiji government to stop its intimidation of workers and trade unions.  Giving comments to a news organization is not a crime but a right. The charges must be dropped.

“Last month Felix Anthony was arrested by the police and held for two days for planning a protest by workers. The repeated arrests and recent charges are a baseless and brazen attempt at silencing critics.”

Background

On 28 June 2019, Fiji’s Department of Public Prosecutions announced that Felix Anthony, the General Secretary of the National Workers Union was charged under section 15 of the Public Order Act for making comments to a Fiji Times reporter that would “create or foster public anxiety.”

Felix Anthony has long been a target of the Fiji government for his labour and political activism. In the most recent instance of this harassment, police had arrested him on 1 May for attempting to organize a workers’ rights protest. He was held for two days before being released.