27 Jan 2016

Fiji lawyer says people are afraid of leaving NZ to go home

9:17 am on 27 January 2016

A lawyer in Fiji says dozens of Fijians in New Zealand are afraid of returning home because of a climate of fear.

Immigration figures show the number of Fijians seeking asylum in New Zealand topped all other groups for the fifth time in ten years.

Last year, 28 Fijians in New Zealand applied for refugee status, and eight were approved, the highest number since the prime minister Frank Bainimarama's coup in 2006.

A lawyer working in Fiji, Aman Ravindra-Singh, says despite elections in 2014, the government has only consolidated its power.

"The climate of fear which has existed since the military takeover in 2006 is still the same. People face charges simply if they show opposition. There have been some deaths, numerous amounts of people who are badly beaten, brutalised, tortured. And this is what a regime does to gain full control over its population and at the same time surpress any opposition."

Mr Ravindra-Singh says asylum-seekers who are forced to return to Fiji have to keep a low profile.