World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Fiji: Bainimarama must end climate of fear

7 August 2014

Fiji: Bainimarama must end climate of fear

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 Grant Bayldon, Executive Director at Amnesty International New Zealand.

Despite Prime Minister Bainimarama’s commitments to create “a level playing field for all Fijians,” human rights defenders, journalists and trade union leaders continue to face harassment and intimidation for peacefully carrying out their legitimate work.

The briefing documents the case of Kris Prasad, a peaceful activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. He was one of 12 people arrested in September 2013 for peacefully protesting against the new Constitution, which came into force that month.

In late April 2014, police again contacted Prasad and other activists, saying that they wanted to reopen the investigation and conduct further interviews – measures that Prasad describes as “tactics of intimidation”.

“Restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association in Fiji should be lifted and acts of intimidation and harassment against government critics and peaceful activists must stop," said Grant Bayldon.

The Government continues to violate workers’ rights by banning strike action for many industries and by intimidating and harassing trade union officials.

In another case highlighted in the human rights agenda, trade union leaders Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai have been arrested and charged with multiple criminal offences over the past two years, including the more serious charges of sedition, for peacefully advocating for workers’ rights.

Compounding the climate of fear are repeated reports of Fijian security forces using torture and other ill-treatment against people in custody. Perpetrators of these and other human rights violations enjoy impunity, with broad amnesties entrenched in the new Constitution.

In a video that surfaced online in March last year, security forces can be seen assaulting a recaptured prisoner. In the disturbing film, Iowene Bendito was repeatedly hit with sticks and batons, while another man was dragged along the ground by a dog. Following the release of the video, Bainimarama reportedly said he would “stand by his men”.

"Torture and ill treatment by security forces must be stopped and those responsible for such crimes held to account," said Grant Bayldon.

“It is not enough to say the right things when abroad while allowing the repression to continue at home. Prime Minister Bainimarama and his government should act now to end the climate of fear.”

Background
Amnesty International is calling on all political parties and candidates in Fiji’s upcoming election on 17 September 2014 to respect and protect human rights if they form the next government.

Fiji: Play Fair, A human rights agenda includes a series of recommendations to improve respect for human rights in a number of areas, in law, policy and practice.

The full briefing is available here.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news