The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has slammed Fiji's interim Government for interfering with the right to practise religion freely and openly.
Fiji's Methodist Church - the main faith of Indigenous Fijians - was expected to attract around one thousand church delegates at its annual conference last month, but Fiji's coup-installed military government banned prominent church leaders from speaking, and then revoked the church's permit to meet at all. The Fiji Police Force also issued a directive banning many of its activities including bazaars, fundraising, rallies, choir practice, camping, open air meetings and sports days.
LCA president Alexander Ward said it was imperative that the interim Government recognise the rights of its citizens to practise religion freely.
"The suppression of religious meetings raises a rule of law issue and specifically breaches Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees freedom of religion," said Ward.
"We understand the current political climate in Fiji is delicate, but the Law Council appeals to the interim Government to respect the rights of its citizens, quash the directive and restore full rights to freedom of religion."