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Highlighting indigenous rights is key: SODELPA

The Social Democratic Liberal Party says the government’s plans to emphasise indigenous issues, particularly the recognition of the rights of the i-Taukei and the people of Rotuma, is of great significance.

SODELPA’s General Secretary Lenaitasi Duru was responding to President, His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere’s speech at the Opening of the 2023-2024 Session of Parliament where he said the protection of indigenous rights would be an avenue government would highlight.

“This is protected by international agreements such as the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Duru’s statement read.

Duru said that SODELPA recognizes the importance of human rights for all, and we are committed to ensuring that Indigenous rights are not placed above the rights of minority ethnic communities.

He said the re-establishment of the Great Council of Chiefs was a major step forward in addressing Indigenous issues, and we commend the government’s plan to consult and undertake preparatory work before introducing relevant bills.

“The late Justice Jai Ram Reddy’s words remind us that the Chiefs are leaders of all of Fiji’s people and emphasize the importance of inclusiveness,” Duru said.

He said SODELPA also acknowledges the government’s commitment to reviewing the principal i-Taukei statutes, including the i-Taukei Affairs Act, i-Taukei Lands Act, i-Taukei Land Trust Act, i-Taukei Trust Fund Act, and i-Taukei Development Fund Act. These reviews aim to ensure that relevant institutions are positioned for efficient and effective service delivery, consistent with the government’s mandate. We support the government’s plan to strengthen i-Taukei institutions, such as the i-Taukei Affairs Board, Provincial, Tikina, and Village Councils, to improve service delivery.

Duru added SODELPA recognizes the coalition Government’s commitment to improving the economic position of the i-Taukei and raising living standards in villages and settlements.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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