Thursday, June 06, 2013

Cash for Questions: the Brutality Behind Fiji’s Idyllic Image

By Holly Watt, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph
 

Since gaining independence from Britain in 1970, the Pacific nation has suffered a series of coups. The country was fully suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009. Fiji’s recent history has been marred by racial and political tensions that have left the country isolated internationally. 
After the most recent military takeover in 2006, Commodore Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama became prime minister. Three years later, the Court of Appeal ruled that Bainimarama’s rule was unlawful. 
The president immediately announced that he had dismissed all the country’s judges, creating a constitutional crisis. Emergency rule was imposed and tight restrictions on the media were introduced. 
A report by Human Rights Watch has found that, since the coup in 2006, the military and police have “arbitrarily arrested and detained human rights defenders”.


“Four people have died in military or police custody and dozens of people have been intimidated, beaten, sexually assaulted, or subjected to degrading treatment,” the report added.


In 2012, the military regime lifted emergency rule after three years but press freedom has not been restored, although a draft constitution has been published. Elections are scheduled for 2014, but several human rights groups have voiced concerns about the country’s future.


Two months ago, video footage emerged of two prisoners being tortured in a Fiji jail, which provoked renewed international anger. A nine-minute video posted online shows two men being repeatedly beaten with poles as they lie huddled on the ground handcuffed and screaming in agony as batons are used repeatedly against them. 



Amnesty International called for an independent and transparent investigation into the recording.


In a response to a written question from Patrick Mercer, Hugo Swire, a Foreign Office minister, said that Fiji was “a country of concern”. 

Increase police surveillance of Fiji citizens

Fiji police special branch officers watching over Fiji Women's event




The 800-plus volcanic and coral islands that make up the nation of Fiji enjoy a tropical climate and host a significant tourism industry. The country also relies heavily on the sugar production industry. 


Hundreds of Fijians are serving in the British Army.


Fiji has been hampered by persistent trade and budget deficits, and is one of the world’s largest per capita recipients of aid. 

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