9 Mar 2006

US says Fiji generally respects human rights, despite problems

12:49 pm on 9 March 2006

In its annual assessment of other countries' treatment of human rights, the United States says Fiji generally respects the rights of its citizens.

But the report by the US State Department says Fiji has poor prison conditions, including serious overcrowding, and increased attacks against religious facilities, particularly Hindu temples.

It says there's government corruption in Fiji, as well as violence and discrimination against women.

The reports notes the number of complaints to the Fiji Human Rights Commission for violation of the right to freedom from cruel and degrading treatment and torture has declined significantly over the previous three years.

The US says Fiji courts released prisoners, including some facing serious charges, on bail to minimize their exposure to an unhealthy and overcrowded prison environment.

The report says break-ins, vandalism, attempted arson, and thefts directed at houses of worship, predominantly Hindu temples, continued to increase.

The document also says domestic abuse, rape, incest, and indecent assault are significant problems in Fiji.

Police are required to pursue investigations of domestic violence cases even if a victim later withdraws their accusation.

The report notes that Fiji police generally are more responsive to domestic violence cases than in the past.