2 Mar 2007

Australian foreign minister concerned by rights abuses by Fiji military

10:44 am on 2 March 2007

Australia has expressed concern at the human rights situation in Fiji after last weekend's death of a young man who had been in military custody.

The foreign minister says such incidents highlight the danger of abrogating the rule of law and allowing the Fiji military, which has no expertise in policing matters, to undermine the role of the police.

Alexander Downer says the avenues for Fiji citizens to report military abuses is limited, because the police and judiciary have been compromised by the actions of the military.

Mr Downer also says the Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, has shown herself to be an apologist for the regime.

He says Australia has conveyed its concerns over human rights abuses directly to officials of Fiji's interim government and has called on the Fiji military to cease its human rights abuses.

Australia has also conveyed its concerns to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.