Freedom in the World
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
In 2009, Fiji continued to be ruled by an interim government headed by the leaders of the 2006 military coup. A court ruled in April that the dismissal of Laisenia Qarase and the dissolution of Parliament in 2006, as well as Frank Bainimarama’s 2007 appointment as interim prime minister, were illegal. President Josefa Iloilo subsequently suspended the constitution, reinstated Bainimarama as caretaker prime minister, and imposed Public Emergency Regulations. Throughout the year, the regime became increasingly intolerant of criticism, suppressing the media and voices of dissent through arrests and lawsuits.
Fiji is not an electoral democracy. Under the 1997 constitution, which was suspended in April 2009, Parliament consists of the 32-seat Senate and the 71-seat House of Representatives. The president appoints 14 senators on the advice of the Great Council of Chiefs, 9 on the advice of the prime minister, 8 on the advice of the opposition leader, and 1 on the advice of the council representing outlying Rotuma Island. House members are elected for five-year terms, with 25 seats open to all ethnicities, 23 reserved for indigenous Fijians, 19 for Indo-Fijians, 3 for other ethnic groups (mainly citizens of European and East Asian extraction), and 1 for Rotuma voters. The president is appointed to a five-year term by the Great Council of Chiefs in consultation with the prime minister, who is in turn appointed by the president. The prime minister is generally the leader of the majority party or coalition in Parliament.
Discrimination and violence against women are widespread. Women’s groups claim that rape, child abuse, incest, and infanticide cases are increasing, as well as the number of pregnancy-related deaths. Women are not well represented in government and leadership positions and do not receive equal pay. Legal protections against discrimination do not include homosexuality. Fiji is a source and destination country for the trafficking of women and children.