Fiji security forces committed torture, abuse: Amnesty

Suva, Dec 5 (IANS) Amnesty International on Monday published a report claiming that Fiji’s security forces perpetrated on their victims various forms of torture, including physical abuse, rape, beatings and attacks by police dogs.

The report “How Fiji’s security forces get away with torture” details the types of abuse committed since the 2006 coup staged by then-Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Efe news reported.

Bainimarama became Prime Minister of Fiji in 2014, after winning the elections.

“Not only do the security forces know that torture is taking place, they have stood in the way of accountability,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s (AI) Pacific researcher.

She also said that “while the Fijian authorities have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and pledged to end this cruel practice, this will remain an empty gesture until decisive action is taken.”

The AI report reveals five cases in which the victims died as a result of injuries inflicted during their detention.

Among the cases in the report is that of Vilikesa Soko, a 30-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of robbery and was subsequently interrogated and tortured in August 2014.

Days after the incident, the father of three children died in a hospital, as a result of multiple traumatic injuries, including to his private parts, the report said.

Also reported are the cases of two other victims, including Sakiusa Rabaka, 19, who died in January 2007 due to injuries caused by beatings, sexual assault and other abuses at the Black Rock military base in Nadi.

Eight policemen and a soldier were charged with involuntary manslaughter of Rabaka, but because of military interference, an attempt was made to send the accused military officers overseas on a UN Peacekeeping mission.

They were sentenced to four years in prison in 2009, but just a month later they were released, according to the report.

Although the courts determined that in several cases the accused were forced to sign confessions after being tortured by police or military, these institutions deny these acts.

According to the Fijian Constitution, government actions carried out between 2006 and 2014 are protected by immunity, which means that “accountability for torture is the exception rather than the rule,” Shuetze said.

–IANS

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