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Secretariat not in position to make comments yet

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 24, 2011) - The Fiji-based Pacific Islands Forum will not comment on allegations of torture at Fiji’s Queen Elizabeth Barracks.

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.

Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into the arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment of civilians and ensure that those military officers suspected of involvement in these acts are brought to justice.

Fiji is the only regional country alleged to practice torture, but a spokesperson for the Forum, which based in Suva, says the Secretariat is not in a position to make any public comments on such matters at this time.

Fiji’s interim government is also refusing to comment on the torture allegations as is the Fiji-based UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights.

Colonel Mara says people are taken to the barracks for interrogation, conducted by a select group of soldiers, who report only to the Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s Citizens’ Constitutional Forum has called on the Pacific Islands Forum to consider initiating the Biketawa Declaration to deal with the current Fiji/Tonga diplomatic impasse caused by Ratu Tevita’s escape.

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