1 Mar 2006

U.N. asks for invitation to investigate mercenaries on PNG province of Bougainville

4:23 pm on 1 March 2006

The United Nations is officially asking Fiji and Papua New Guinea to allow a team to come in and investigate the presence of former Fiji soldiers in the PNG province of Bougainville.

A member of the U.N. working group on mercenaries and the director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, says a request is being sent this week.

She says the situation needs to be investigated because the issue of security is at stake.

Dr Shameem says the response from Fiji that there's little that can be done about it because the former soldiers aren't breaking any laws in Fiji, and have a right to associate with whom they please, isn't helpful.

"The rights issue is being used to protect people who might be threatening, or be having an impact on regional security in another part of the Pacific. So, I think that the country needs to confront this quite rapidly, not just in terms of security issues generally for the people but in terms of security issues for the country itself."

Dr Shaista Shameem, a member of the U.N. working group on mercenaries.