Suva, Fiji - Every year approximately 100,000 Fijians encounter a legal problem and need access to mechanisms that lead to fair resolutions. This was revealed by the Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Fiji Report launched today by the Fiji Access to Justice Project. The Fiji Access to Justice Project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Justice Needs and Satisfaction study was conducted in Fiji in 2018 by the Fiji Access to Justice Project with technical expertise of the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL). Almost 5,000 individuals from all four divisions of Fiji and 60 justice sector stakeholders were interviewed in the survey. The report was subject to a validation session conducted on 14 October, which was attended by representatives from Fiji’s justice sector and other government agencies, independent institutions, individual legal practitioners, and civil society.
The study provides a clear view of a range of issues, including an understanding of people’s justice needs; explaining how people experience the justice system; people’s perceptions of justice and the fulfilment of their justice needs, or lack thereof. The report focused on two distinct categories of legal problems, domestic violence and land disputes, which occur frequently and require accessible and eﬀective justice remedies as highlighted in the report.
Acknowledging existing formal and informal mechanisms available to meet people’s justice needs, the report presents gaps in the availability and utilization of such mechanisms and barriers faced by people in accessing justice.
The study also includes a participatory gender analysis and identifies specific obstacles faced by particular groups of people, recognizing that vulnerable groups such as young women and sexual and gender minorities were not likely to share their legal problems. The report suggests that unreported and hidden problems require the special attention of service providers, civil society organizations and policy makers.
Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific His Excellency Sujiro Seam said, “This report is an important achievement, as it conveys the voices of people, based on their experiences and need for legal remedies. At the same time, the report is also a key deliverable and a major input in the context of the Access to Justice Project. It will help improve the implementation of this project, to which the European Union has dedicated Euro 7.5 million (FJD 18 million). The EU continues to support the initiative to advance access to justice in Fiji in partnership with the Fijian Government, civil society and UNDP, with clear focus on disadvantaged populations.”
The study results establish baselines with disaggregated data and gender analysis, identify priority access to justice issues, and provide recommendations for government, civil society, international stakeholders and the Fiji citizens to address in line with both citizen and institutional needs.
The Resident Representatives for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Levan Bouadze said, “The report suggests policy options to address the issues raised by people. UNDP supports evidence-based policy making and works directly with justice and security institutions towards more inclusive and efficient justice mechanisms and service provision to people. The issues in accessing justice are important to be addressed through human right-based approach to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, which is highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions.”
The report recommends more focus on the vulnerable people who need protection under the law, including people with disabilities, people living in remote and isolated areas, and other vulnerable groups and minorities. It also recommends rigorous implementation of the policies designed to counter gender-based violence engaging various state and non-state institutions, and promotion of gender equality and nondiscrimination.
The report of the study: Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Fiji is available on the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji website www.pacific.undp.org/content/pacific/en/JusticeNeedsAndSatisfactionReport.html and the website of HiiL https://www.hiil.org/Fiji. Copies will also be available at the libraries of the University of the South Pacific, and Fiji National University and other libraries in Fiji.
For media queries, please contact:
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Access to Justice Project Advocacy and Outreach, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: +679 942 2193
Kamni Narayan, EU: Communications Unit, email: Kamni.NARAYAN@eeas.europa.eu; tel: +679 3313 633, ext. 115 or Mohammed-Nazeem Kasim, email: Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu; tel: +679 3313 633 ext. 110 or mobile: +679 9920 597