U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT SLAMS FIJI UNDER REGIME

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Fiji rights commission calls the report hypocritical

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 12, 2008) - The US Department of State has issued a bleak report of human rights abuses under Fiji’s interim regime in 2007.

The U.S. Congress mandates these Country Reports on Human Rights Practices every year on 194 countries around the world.

In the 2007 report released today, the US said that during the year, the interim government denied citizens the right to change their government peacefully. It said the state of emergency in effect for half of the year significantly restricted constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, movement, and assembly and subjected the right to privacy to the military’s interpretation without recourse to the courts.

"Under the interim government, the military and police arbitrarily detained and sometimes abused individuals, resulting in three deaths; conducted searches without warrants; engaged in intimidation of the media; and restricted the right to assemble peacefully.

"Other problems during the year included poor prison conditions; attacks against religious facilities, particularly Hindu Temples; government corruption; deep divisions between indigenous Fijians (57 percent of the population) and Indo-Fijians (38 percent); violence and discrimination against women; and sexual exploitation of children."

The Fiji Human Rights Commission [reacted to the report, saying] the USA can’t be the guardian of human rights for the rest of the world because it’s like asking Dracula to guard the blood bank.

FHRC chairperson Dr. Shaista Shameem said, "USA should tell Fiji how it intends to deal with gross human rights violations committed by itself in Iraq, while it destroys that country. "As for Guantanamo Bay - when is the house of horrors going to be closed down and every inmate get due process? People should also read the USA NGO Network report of racism in every sphere of government in the USA - it makes good reading, though there are volumes of abuses recorded. In Fiji the USA buys off the NGOs with tin badges and a handshake."

When asked if the FHRC is aware of the alleged abuses under the Fiji regime and if it had taken any actions, Shaista said the FHRC was not consulted before the publication of the report so it will not bother to reply.

The report said that under the interim government, "the military and police arbitrarily detained and sometimes abused individuals, resulting in three deaths; conducted searches without warrants; engaged in intimidation of the media; and restricted the right to assemble peacefully."

"Other problems during the year included poor prison conditions; attacks against religious facilities, particularly Hindu temples; government corruption; deep divisions between indigenous Fijians (57 percent of the population) and Indo-Fijians (38 percent); violence and discrimination against women; and sexual exploitation of children."

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