18 May 2007

UN team visits Fiji for talks on mercenaries

9:46 am on 18 May 2007

Two security companies say former Fijian soldiers hired to work as security guards in Iraq are not mercenaries because they are engaged to protect assets.

The statement comes as a 5-member United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries is visiting Fiji for talks with government officials and other groups.

The Fiji Times quotes Sakiusa Rokotakala, who recruits guards for Armour Guard International of the United States, as saying Fijian guards cannot be called mercenaries because they are armed only with light weapons to defend themselves.

He says Fijians are highly trained in their areas of work and this is shown by the large number of them already in Iraq.

Sakiusa Raivoce of the Global Risk company says he has told the UN Working Group that if they want to know about mercenaries, they are talking to the wrong people.

The UN Group has held talks with the government and has agreed to help Fiji draft laws to deal with mercenaries.

Fiji's interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, admits that there are serious concerns about companies recruiting mercenaries in Fiji but currently there are no laws in place to monitor this.