Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fiji Human Rights Abuses

US report notes Fiji human rights abuses
Wednesday March 07, 2007 -

The U.S State Department report on Human Rights Practices in 2006 has noted the human rights situation in Fiji greatly deteriorated following the December 5 coup.

The report launched in Washington today said prior to the coup, the government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, although there were serious problems in some areas.

According to the report there were some accounts of abuses by police during the year.

"The military committed numerous abuses after the December 5 coup.

"Following the coup there were numerous incidents of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) detaining without a warrant and abusing persons who had voiced opposition to the coup or who supported a return to democratic government."

The report noted the detention of six pro-democracy supporters by soldiers on Christmas Eve and the desecration of a pro-democracy shrine in Lami.

According to the report, the number of complaints of human rights violations to the Fiji Human Rights Commission declined over the previous four years.

"Formal complaints to the FHRC following the coup did not increase significantly by year's end despite alleged military abuses; according to human rights observers this reflected a climate of intimidation and fears of reprisals after the coup."

The report said while the FHRC director had said she would investigate cases of human rights abuses if formal complaints were made, she had also warned the public that not all their rights could be exercised freely under the state of emergency.

"Although the state of emergency was initially declared on December 5, the details on how constitutional rights had been affected were not publicly made until December 29."

The US State Department report also noted that the interim military government took no action against military personnel alleged to have committed abuses against coup opponents and pro-democracy activists.

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