Human rights are at the heart of Pacific Dialogue - why we started, what our values are and what we do.

Guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and influenced by a deep understanding and experience of the Fijian and Pacific islands context, Pacific Dialogue works in three main areas:

  • Human trafficking
  • Labour and migration
  • Advocacy and training

Human Trafficking

The aims of Pacific Dialogue's work in the human trafficking sector are to raise awareness in communities and workplaces in Fiji, and to build their capacity to recognise and act on instances of human trafficking.

Pacific Dialogue is currently undertaking human trafficking awareness programs in the Suva and Nadi area. Below are some of our previous projects and initiatives.

Child Rights and Human Trafficking Awareness in the Sigatoka Region

From December 2014 to April 2015, with support from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the Sigatoka Town Council and the Fiji Police Force, Pacific Dialogue delivered a series of awareness workshops. Workshops were held in more than 30 villages, from Malomalo to the top of the Sigatoka Valley Road, discussions were also held with business and religious groups, transport operators, school teachers and students, and information sessions were hosted at the Sigatoka market.

 

Entertainment at Sigatoka Market
information session
Discussion on human trafficking
in a village in Sigatoka region

 

Human trafficking workshops for legal prosecutors 

In 2011, prosecutors travelled to the capital Suva from across the country to take part in a Pacific Dialogue human trafficking workshop, facilitated by former Justice Nazhat Shameem.

Whilst training the officers on the prosecution of human trafficking crimes, the workshop also examined International Conventions and overseas cases before concluding with a mock court scenario in which officers summarised a number of case studies. All training materials were researched and designed by members of the Pacific Dialogue team.

The workshop assisted in the ongoing fight against human trafficking in Fiji, following the formation of the National Plan of Action to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons and Child Trafficking. Both the international and domestic trafficking of persons continues to pose a serious threat in Fiji.

Lead trainer, Pacific Dialogue Associate and former High Court Judge Nazhat Shameem commented:

 

“This was the first ever Human Trafficking workshop for state prosecutors in Fiji. The day was a great success and will hopefully mark the start of many similar training initiatives in our state institutions.”

“I am very grateful for the input of Pacific Dialogue in the workshop, and it is critical that civil society plays a prominent role in the ongoing fight against Human Trafficking in Fiji.”

Local Engagement

Pacific Dialogue has delivered human trafficking awareness raising sessions in many communities around Fiji.

In 2014 this included being invited to speak at the Catholic Women's soli and annual meeting on Solevu in Bau Province, and the Homes of Hope (Wailoku) also invited Pacific Dialogue to contribute to a plan on human trafficking awareness and sexual exploitation. 

International engagement

Pacific Dialogue continues to raise and discuss the issue of human trafficking through regional and international forums and publications. This includes presenting at the 'People preventing Trafficking conference in New Zealand in 2014, and engaging with organisations like the Australian Federal Police, the American Bar Association, US Homeland Security, and the anti slavery unit of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. Articles, speeches and presentations can be viewed here.

Labour and Migration

In Fiji and the Pacific islands, labour and migration have long been entwined as over the decades people have migrated outwards from their homelands, mainly for employment. Indeed, Pacific Islanders have moved over their ocean for thousands of years and are among the most mobile group anywhere in the world.

Migration for employment brings economic benefits, including the flow of remittances back to the country of origin, but it also brings higher risks of labour and human rights transgressions and abuses.

Our work in this area includes:

South South Labour Mobility in the Pacific

Pacific Dialogue was commissioned by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Observatory on Migration, a consortium of the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States, the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other members, to undertake research and provide recommendations on the south-south labour mobility needs of the Pacific region.

The aim of the report is to contribute to the identification and better understanding of south-south labour mobility needs in the Pacific region with a view of assessing and feeding into the development of the proposed Pacific Islands Trade Agreement  (PICTA) Trade in Services and Temporary Movement of Naturals Persons (TIS-TMPN) scheme.

From the project report: The opportunity exists now, for the age-old movement of Pacific Islanders, to be retained within the region itself if PIC governments would create better living and work conditions through strong support for skills training and knowledge transfer – particularly for the region’s youth. Read the project report here

Safe Migration Practices Report: raising awareness on safe migration practices among youth in Fiji

In 2013 the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Intra-Migration Facility commissioned Pacific Dialogue to undertake research and to report on labour migration in Fiji and provide recommendations for consideration.

From the report: A majority of young people consulted through this project stated that in the absence of liveable wages, access to credit, insurance, social welfare benefits, employment opportunities and conducive growth environments, the value of migration has proven to be greater than its hardship or potential for exploitationRead the project report here.

Advocacy and training

Pacific Dialogue advocates for human rights through articles, parliamentary submissions, presentations and hosting debates. You can view these here

Training is also an important to build the capacity of individuals and organisations to understand and act on human rights issues. As well as human trafficking awareness training, Pacific Dialogue's training work has included: 

CID Investigators workshop

A C.I.D. Investigators Qualifying Workshop with the Fiji Police Force was facilitated by Pacific Dialogue Associate and former High Court Judge Madam Nazhat Shameem.

The aim of the workshop was to enlighten the 45 participants on the various international conventions that Fiji has ratified such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and Fiji’s commitment to these conventions through its decrees — such as the Crimes Decree, HIV/AIDs Decree, Mental Health Decree, and the Domestic Violence Decree.

Participants at CID workshop

The participants were told about the rights they must uphold when taking people into custody. Significant importance was placed on those of children, women and mentally unsound people. Case Studies based on the conventions and decrees gave the participants ‘hands-on’ training on how they should prosecute a case whereby a person’s rights as stated in these conventions and decrees are not violated.

The day was capped off with presentation by the participants on how they would practically apply the laws, together with a lively question-and-answer session with Madam Shameem on various aspects of both the international and domestic laws.

Natural disaster workshops

Pacific Dialogue facilitated one of the largest and most successful workshops on natural disasters in Fiji in Natewa Village, Cakaudrove. 80 participants from 17 villages around Natewa and Buca Bay attended the workshop conducted by experts from the Fiji National University.

Pacific Dialogue CEO Jone Dakuvula called the workshop a “landmark event” in which the Vanuas of Natewa and Tuniloa came together for the first time at a public gathering. A total of 17 villages came to further their knowledge of disaster prevention and preparedness, represented by the turaga-ni-koro, youth leaders and women’s delegates.

 Participants at natural disaster workshop

Mr Lal, lecturer at the College of Humanities and Education at Labasa Campus was invited to facilitate the workshop. Mr Lal said it provided vital information to participants on natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, earthquakes and tsunami, the likely impacts on people, agriculture and on the economy overall. “It looked at ways to reduce the impacts and the costs of such disasters. The costs of natural disasters continue to escalating worldwide and in Fiji too.” Mr Lal asserted that developing countries such as Fiji need to work out ways of reducing losses and damage and one way was to create awareness of the problems and coping methods.