15 Mar 2007

Fiji leaders downplay abuse claims

4:04 pm on 15 March 2007

Fiji's military rulers say human rights abuses there are relatively minor and international sanctions imposed after the recent coup have had little impact.

The military spokesperson, Major Neumi Leweni, says the United States' Department of State's report highlighting human rights abuses in Fiji since the coup, presents allegations as fact.

He says the report's claim that women had been molested by soldiers because they spoke out against the coup has not been substantiated.

Major Leweni says these allegations are nothing when compared with events in Iraq and other places.

He also defended the military government's handling of the media amid widespread allegations of censorship.

Major Leweni says they haven't really interfered with the media, but raised issues over some articles that are totally untrue.