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Fiji 2023

A law restricting the media was repealed but other legislation limiting the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly remained. Women were under-represented in public office although legal obstacles to voting for married women were removed. Migrant workers remained vulnerable to exploitation.


The new government – elected in December 2022 in the first change of government since the 2006 coup – entered its first year in office.

Freedom of expression and assembly

In April, parliament repealed the Media Industry Development Act (2010), under which journalists and media outlets faced fines or imprisonment for publishing information “against the national interest”. However, the Public Order Act, sedition provisions of the Crimes Act and other restrictive laws remained in place.

Police took a restrictive approach to policing protests, but the government showed increased respect for the right to peaceful assembly. On 25 August, police prevented members of the Fiji First political party from joining a peaceful protest against the release by Japan of Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. In March, police attempted to block a “Reclaim the Night” march in support of ending violence against women. The march took place following ministerial intervention.

In July, the High Court dismissed on appeal the conviction of lawyer Richard Naidu who was found guilty in 2022 of contempt of court for publicly highlighting a spelling error in a court judgment.

In February, the opposition leader, former prime minister Frank Bainimarama, resigned from parliament after being suspended for criticizing the newly elected prime minister and president. In October, Frank Bainimarama and former police commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho were acquitted of charges of perverting the course of justice and abuse of power respectively for allegedly interfering in police investigations into complaints in 2020 about financial mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific.


In May, parliament repealed an amendment to the Electoral Act removing the requirement that women who wished to vote under their married name must first apply for their name to be changed on their birth certificate.

Despite commitments by the new government to increase the representation of women in public office, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) found that women’s representation on State boards and commissions was unchanged from 2020 at 20%. Women held just 10% of parliamentary seats in 2023.

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) recorded increased reports of rape to their organization compared to 2022.

Right to a healthy environment

In a case brought by representatives of Indigenous People from Malolo island, the High Court found in April that the China-linked company Freesoul Real Estate Development was liable for civil damages for the illegal destruction of reefs and mangroves for which the company was fined in 2022.

Migrants’ rights

In September, authorities revoked the visas of seven South Korean nationals with leadership positions in the Grace Road company where allegations of mistreatment of migrant workers had been reported since 2018. The group, which operates a church and owns restaurants and other businesses in Fiji, employs around 400 workers from South Korea. According to media reports, the migrant workers were subjected to abuse and exploitation including non-payment of wages, the withholding of passports and physical assaults. Two of the seven were deported.