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 The Hansard Report of
  the Lords Debate of
  26   Feb 2008 can be
  found  by following
  the link below
:

www.publications.
parliament.uk/pa/
ld200708/ldhansrd/
text/80226-0011
.htm#08022672000001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 From PISUKI Report Issue 2, August 2009

Election deadline for Fiji

      FIJI has been given a final chance to agree to hold early elections or face suspension from the Commonwealth.

      Commonwealth ministers meeting in London in July spent seven hours debating whether to suspend Fiji immediately amid deepening concern at the decision by the nation’s military regime, led by CommodoreFrank Bainimarama, the self- appointed interim Prime Minister, to put back the election timetable to 2014.

      However, the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which addresses serious breaches by member nations of the organisation’s democratic values, gave the Pacific nation until September 1 to commit to elections.

      Fiji has already been excluded from all Commonwealth meetings. The Commonwealth wants Fiji to hold elections no later than October 2010.

      The military regime, which seized power in a 2006 coup, had promised to hold elections last March.

      Since then, the situation had “deteriorated strongly”, the group said. It deplored the abrogating of the constitution in April, the “further entrenchment of authoritarian rule outside the constitution and the rule of law, the ongoing violation of human rights including the freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detention of opponents of the military regime, and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary and the legal system”.

      If a positive reply is received from Suva, the group has authorised its Chair and Secretary-General to consult with Fiji and report at its next meeting in New York on Sept 26.

      The group comprises Britain, Ghana, Malaysia, Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

      In Cairns, The Pacific Islands Forum reaffirmed its suspension of Fiji

 

From The Outrigger Issue 52, Spring 2008

Lords Papua plea

THE Government was urged in a Lords debate in February to step up efforts to persuade Indonesia to put an end to the abuse of human rights and torture of political detainees in West Papua.

THE proportion of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua is expected to drop from 96 per cent of a 900,000 population in 1971 to around 15 per cent by 2030, the House of Lords was told in a recent debate.

“Papuans are becoming a minority in their own country”, said the Rt Rev Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, quoting a UN source as describing West Papua as being among those countries whose population were “at risk of extinction”.

Leading the debate on Feb 26, he said that human rights abuses in West Papua were “very grave”. The systematic brutality was in support of the 1969 “act of no choice” when a handpicked 1,000 Papuans voted under military pressure to remain part of Indonesia instead of seeking independence.

He wanted the Government to work for an international presence in West Papua to ensure that those who are raising human rights issues could do so “without the present fear of intimidation, torture and death”.

Speakers referred to international reports alleging brutality by army, police and paramilitary units in stamping out peaceful protests, and the widespread use of torture of detainees, and extra-judicial executions.

Lord Archer of Sandwell said that history would not understand how human suffering on such a scale continued year after year while the world looked on complacently. He urged the Government to go to the Security Council.

Baroness Cox said that the conflict was primarily a struggle for West Papuan independence or self- determination.

The Lib-Dem spokesman, Lord Avebury, who is a former president of TAPOL, the Indonesian human rights campaign, asked for pressure to be applied to Indonesia to train the judiciary and police, and Lord Astor (Cons) wanted the Government to get Indonesia to try to achieve a basic standard of human rights.

“Torture is a central pillar of West Papua rule,” he said.

For the Government, Lord Malloch-Brown acknowledged that Lord Harries had raised issues that were not acceptable anywhere.

But Indonesia was a country that had changed enormously in the past decade, including making significant improvements in human rights.

Britain recognised the shortcomings of Indonesia but “we believe that the way forward is an internal dialogue between the people of Papua and the Government of Jakarta”, he said.


 

Solomons can have a bright future, Says MP

 AFTER a visit to the Solomons, Michael Howard MP, former leader of the Conservative Party, said the Island state had
“enormous potential” and, given the right political and physical infrastructure, could develop into a unique tourist destination.

“Apart from the usual attributes of South Pacific Islands, the country has an extraordinary legacy of the Second World War in terms of underwater wrecks and islands on which President John F Kennedy was shipwrecked and from which he was rescued during that conflict,” he told The Outrigger.

Mr Howard went to the Solomons with Baroness Golding, the Labour peer, when he led a British parliamentary delegation to the South Pacific last year. The delegates spent a week in New Zealand before splitting up into small groups to see the Islands - Elliot Morley (Labour MP for Scunthorpe) and Andrew Tyrie (Conservative, Chichester) went to the Cook Islands; and David Crausby (Labour, BoltonNorth East) and Lindsay Hoyle (Labour, Chorley) to Samoa.

 

The visit, arranged by the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, was to discuss climate change, subsidy-free agriculture in New Zealand, governance matters, the role of the CPA and, in the Solomons, development funding.

Mr Howard and Baroness Golding also saw for themselves the tsunami-struck areas around Gizo, where 52 people died after an underwater earthquake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, unleashed a l6ft wall of water through the western Solomons. More than 36,000 people and 6,300 homes were affected.

________________________________________________

During the CPA’s visit to Gizo, Mr Richard Lyne, the British high commissioner, and Mr Howard handed over 60 sewing machines to women survivors in the emergency tented camp to provide them with income for their families.
________________________________________________

 

All elements of the visit were a great success. In all the countries the delegates enjoyed excellent access to parliamentarians and ministers.

In New Zealand, much time was spent on climate change.

The MPs agreed that the mission, particularly to the Islands, was of much value. It gave them a big insight into the challenges faced by the small Island nations.

In the Cook Islands, behind the outward façade of a South Pacific paradise, there were major infrastructure challenges regarding potable water supply, drainage, sewage and waste disposal and in Samoa, there was much interest in climate change issues.

In Honiara, governance issues were discussed together with the tsunami relief funds from the UK, which at the time of the delegation’s visit, had not been disbursed some months after the April disaster. Delegation members were disappointed that reconstruction work still needed to be done on Gizo.

Britain donated SI$250,000 (about £18,000) to the disaster fund. In addition, Britain helped bilaterally with small recovery projects in Gizo, Vella Lavella and South New Georgia as well as funding repairs to a crucial wharf at Nusatupe airfield in Gizo.

The British Government also helped to ensure the EU provided 550,000 Euros (about £380,000) from ECHO, its humanitarian arm. ECHO’s work is largely focussed on water and sanitation work as well as child welfare through the French Red Cross and the UK Save The Children Fund, which is represented on the ground by the Australian branch.

 

 

 

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