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Fiji

    December 04, 2016

    Released 21:01 GMT 4 December 2016

    Under the military’s dominance, the Pacific island nation of Fiji has seen an ingrained culture of torture take root among its security forces, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    Famed for white-sand beaches and sweeping views of turquoise water, Fiji is known as a holiday destination. But over a decade since the 2006 coup, the military remains in control of key institutions, including the police, with a militarization of the justice system that allows torture and other ill-treatment to go unpunished.

    The new Amnesty International report, Beating Justice: How Fiji’s Security Forces Get Away with Torture details how uniformed officials on Fiji’s islands have inflicted severe beatings, rape and other sexual violence, attacks by police dogs, shootings and other forms of torture and ill-treatment or punishment in violation international law.

    July 12, 2016

    In response to the emergence of photographs that purportedly show torture and other ill-treatment by security forces during an operation in Navosa, Fiji, Amnesty International said:

    “These deeply disturbing images should be immediately and independently investigated in a thorough and transparent manner. It is not enough for the police to investigate themselves, as the Police Commissioner has suggested. If any torture and other ill treatment is found to have taken place at the hands of Fijian security forces, the perpetrators must face accountability so that the country can begin to break with its grim track record on human rights violations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The photographs in question show several Fijians with injuries, including bruises and lacerations to the head Some images show two people lying down with hands and legs tied together behind their backs with rope. In the background of some of these photos, military and police officers armed with guns can be seen.

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    June 03, 2016

    The Fijian parliament must overturn the suspension of an opposition MP for merely exercising her right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Parliaments can only be worthy of their name when all members can speak freely on all issues,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Unless this suspension is immediately reversed, the Fijian authorities are proving they are intent on silencing critical voices.”

    Tupou Draunidalo, an indigenous Fijian parliamentarian and member of the National Federation Party was suspended following a parliamentary motion on 3 June 2016 for calling a government minister “a fool” while responding to comments deriding opposition members of parliament.

    Draunidalo asked the government minister if he was suggesting herself and other indigenous members of the opposition were “dumb natives”.

    October 21, 2015

    The opening of the trial of three police officers and two members of the military on charges of physically and sexually assaulting a man in their custody must be accompanied by an independent and impartial investigation of all past abuses by Fiji’s security forces, said Amnesty International today.

    Four of the men appeared at Nasinu Magistrate’s Court after a “torture video” released online appeared to show them attacking Iowane Benedito with iron bars and batons in November 2012.

    The whereabouts of the fifth man is not known.

    “This video reveals the shocking level of brutality that the police force and members of the military are capable of. The repeated beatings that Iowane Benedito was subjected to were vicious in the extreme and they clearly amount to torture,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Campaigns Director.

    Amnesty International has received multiple reports of Fiji’s security forces using torture and other ill-treatment against people in its custody.

    March 16, 2015

    by Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International, Director of Global Issues

    A couple of weeks ago, on 13 February, we woke up to the good news that Fiji had joined the ranks of countries to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. There are now 99 countries who have completely scrapped the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment from their laws – exactly half of all states in the world.
     

          "The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach."    

    The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach.  The parliaments in both Suriname and Madagascar have recently approved bills abolishing executions – all that is left is for the countries’ presidents to sign them into law, although it remains to be seen who gets there first.

    September 30, 2014

    Fiji authorities must urgently investigate allegations that a man was severely beaten by army officers after he had sent a series of angry text messages to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Amnesty International said.

    Amnesty International has received credible information that four army officers turned up at the home of the 60-year old teacher in town outside the capital Suva on 27 September, dragged him to a nearby alleyway and assaulted him. Earlier on the same day, the man had an angry exchange of text messages with Bainimarama alleging that his songs were used without permission during the recent election campaign.

    “It is shocking that someone should be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment by military officers just for sending text messages to the Prime Minister. This case must be urgently and independently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher.

    “The investigation should cover not only the physical perpetrators but those, if any, who gave the orders to attack the man.”

    August 06, 2014

    Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s eight years in power have seen ongoing serious human rights violations fuel a climate of fear that must be brought to an end, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published ahead of the leader’s visit to New Zealand this week.

    As Fiji prepares for parliamentary elections next month – the first in the eight years since Bainimarama took power in the 2006 military coup – Fiji: Play Fair, A human rights agenda documents the continued suppression of freedom of expression, violations of workers’ rights and use of torture by security forces, all of which the government must urgently address.

    “A combination of draconian laws, a pattern of intimidation and harassment of those who are critical of the government, as well as reports of torture by the security forces, have created a climate of fear in Fiji,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    June 27, 2014

    The Fijian authorities must immediately end the harassment of journalists ahead of the parliamentary elections in September, said Amnesty International.

    On Wednesday 25 June, a government body – the Fiji Media Industry Development Authority – called for two journalism academics from Fiji’s University of the South Pacific to be investigated for commenting on an apparent admission by the military that they used torture.

    “This is the latest act of intimidation against journalists by the authorities. There is a worrying pattern in Fiji of the authorities trying to silence journalists ahead of the elections in September,” said Michael Hayworth, Crisis Response Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International Australia.

    “Attacks against the media are one of the most serious violations of the right to freedom of expression, particularly in the lead up to elections. The media must be allowed to freely publish information concerning the elections, including criticisms of the government and candidates, without fear of retribution.”

    September 04, 2013

     

    Fiji’s proposed new constitution falls far short of international standards of human rights law and is another step backwards in guaranteeing human rights protection for all, Amnesty International said.

    The draft constitution will be sent to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for assent on 6 September.

    “Contrary to the claims of Fiji’s government over the last few months, the new constitution actually weakens human rights protections in the country,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    The current text upholds decrees that severely restrict free speech, grants the state the power to detain people (potentially indefinitely) without charge or trial in times of emergency. It also gives state officials immunity for a wide range of acts, including crimes under international law such as torture.

    March 05, 2013

    Video footage apparently showing the torture of  two men in Fiji is “shocking”, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, as it called for an independent investigation into the events.

    The nine minute video posted online appears to show 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.

    The authenticity of the footage is still to be verified and the perpetrators are not in uniform, however, it appears consistent with earlier reports of brutality against  prisoners.

    “This appalling incident appears to be the latest example of abuse. The Fijian authorities must treat this shocking footage with the utmost seriousness and immediately initiate an independent investigation,” said Roseann Rife of Amnesty International. “While the video is still to be verified what is clear is that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible must be brought to justice.”

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