15 Jan 2007

Fiji military to investigate all reports of human rights violations by soldiers

10:39 am on 15 January 2007

Fiji's military has given an assurance that it will investigate all reports of human rights violations by soldiers.

The assurance follows concern about reports of people being taken in by the military and assaults on some including several Fijian soldiers serving with the British army who are home on leave.

Media reports in Fiji have spoken of a group of men and women being forced to strip to their undergarments by female soldiers and forced to run around the drill square at the Nasinu Training Camp.

A taxi driver has complained of two broken ribs and a bruised torso after being taken in by soldiers in Nausori.

The Lautoka Hospital has confirmed treating and discharging a man in his 40s who was brought in by soldiers with visible injuries to his chest.

The former labour minister in the SDL government, Kenneth Zinck, is reported to have been arrested in Nadi, taken to the Namaka police station where he was made to run around and then spent the night in a cell.

Mr Zinck is reported to have criticised President Iloilo for his statement supporting the work of the military.

Interim administration ministers have been reluctant to speak about these reports but several say they will bring up the issue at their first cabinet meeting tomorrow.

The Fiji Times reports that the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has appealed to the interim administration to step in and stop human rights violations.