23 May 2011

UN Human Rights Office silent about Fiji torture claims

1:37 pm on 23 May 2011

The Fiji-based United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights is not commenting on allegations that Fiji's military is torturing civilians.

A spokesperson for the office says it is not commenting at this time.

Last week, Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara's comments were the first by any of the 2006 coup leaders admitting that the military has been using torture in dealing with civilians perceived to be opposed to the regime.

Colonel Mara left for Tonga after being charged with sedition, saying he feared he would not get a fair trial from Fiji's military regime.

Colonel Mara says people are taken to the barracks for interrogation, conducted by a select group of soldiers, who operate under the commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Fiji's interim government is also refusing to comment on the torture allegations.

The UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, based in Suva, is tasked with increasing the knowledge of international human rights norms and standards by stakeholders in the region.