20 May 2008

Australia offers to fly families of High Commission staff out of Fiji following threats

3:15 pm on 20 May 2008

The Australian Government is offering to evacuate the families of staff at its High Commission, saying it remains deeply concerned by threats directed at office.

The decision had been made following Fiji's refusal to allow greater protection for Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji, James Batley, who has received two death threats.

In a release from Foreign Minister Dr Stephen Smith's office, it says a number of additional steps will now be taken to further strengthen the security of staff, their families and the premises, including the offer to fly families home.

The Australian Government has also re-iterated that it will not alter its policy on Fiji.

It says it will continue to press the interim Fiji Government to return to democracy and the rule of law through democratic elections by March 2009, as interim leader, Commodore Bainimarama committed to at last year's Pacific leaders' summit.