10 Mar 2005

Fiji lawyer says it's valid to question whether Fiji workers in Iraq are mercenaries

8:16 pm on 10 March 2005

A Fiji lawyer is backing a call for the Fiji Government to answer concerns that Fiji nationals working under contract in Iraq are not acting as mercenaries.

The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries, Fiji-based Shaista Shameem, is waiting for a reply from the Fiji Government on the issue.

Dr Shameem says she wants to make sure that the Government knows what the conditions of work are for the up to 2000 Fijians working for private firms in Iraq.

Tevita Fa, a Fiji lawyer who has acted for Fijians employed as security officers in Iraq by British firm Global Risk Strategies, says it's a valid question.

"These recruitment agencies are recruiting people here as security guards. What is happening at the other end noone knows. They may well become mercenaries the moment they arrive in Iraq. But only these recruiting agencies and the people who are involved would know."

Tevita Fa says people in Fiji do not know what the term mercenary really means and where the work of a security guard would stop and the duties of a mercenary begin.