Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Fiji to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Fiji's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The protection and promotion of democratic institutions and human rights are among the U.S. Government's top priorities. All U.S. Government efforts and programs related to democratic values or human rights are harmonized with these key objectives. Immediate priorities are to encourage the country's return to democratic rule via free and fair elections, to strengthen human rights protections, and to promote respect for internationally recognized labor rights and a free and robust media.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. Government has joined with representatives of like-minded foreign missions and multilateral organizations to expedite restoration of the rule of law, strengthen civil society, and rebuild democratic institutions. The United States has encouraged the interim government to take credible steps toward free and fair elections. The U.S. Government maintains regular dialogue with pro-democracy NGOs and consistently presses military-appointed leaders to hasten the country's return to democracy.

In response to ongoing human rights violations including unreasonable limits on freedom of expression, the U.S. Government continues its outreach to, and gives public support for, human rights NGOs. The U.S, Government also has made small grants to civil society organizations to build their capacity and support their activities. The U.S. Government uses the Secretary of State's annual "Women of Courage" awards and other such opportunities to raise public awareness of the country's human rights champions. Reporters, human rights activists, and even government auditors--whose job is to underpin good governance and anti-corruption efforts--participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program. The U.S. Government meets with human rights activists to underscore U.S. support and facilitate NGO outreach. Similarly, U.S. senior-level meetings with members of the interim government reinforce the United States' deep displeasure with human rights violations since the coup. The U.S. Government reaches out to local journalists and media organizations, emphasizing U.S. support for human rights, media freedom, good governance, due process, and rule of law, as well as provides professional training to journalists covering these issues. U.S. statements publicly condemn the coup, express support for a rapid return to a democratically elected government, and call on the military to withdraw from all political involvement.

The coup constrains traditional U.S. engagement with the military. The U.S. Government continues to make clear its position on the military's proper role in a democracy and the damage that the coup has inflicted on the military's once-proud reputation in the world's peacekeeping-operations community. Since the 2006 coup, the UN, the United States, and other major allies have stated that they would not support the country's involvement in new international peacekeeping operations.

In its annual engagement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on UN General Assembly voting, the United States has underscored its appreciation for the country's high incidence of votes in support of human rights and democratic values in a broad, international context. The U.S. Government maintains its outreach to women's and children's rights organizations concerning child prostitution and other forms of human trafficking in order to better assess the extent of the problem and discuss ways to address it.

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