Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Parliament condemns Fiji brutality

Phill Goff said the video recording brought to light a pattern of behaviour by Fijian security forces towards detainess. Photo / NZPA
Phill Goff said the video recording brought to light a pattern of behaviour by Fijian security forces towards detainess. Photo / NZPA

Parliament has condemned the torture of Fijian detainees and urged the Fijian Government to find those responsible.

Labour Party foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff moved a motion in the House today to condemn the beating of two Fijians, which was shown in a video posted on the internet and blamed on the Fijian military by human rights groups.

It was passed by the House without dissent.

Mr Goff called on the interim government to publicly condemn the use of torture to hold
people to account, and demanded that the country's leaders follow the United Nations guidelines on torture and civil rights.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who was not in the House today, has not spoken publicly about the video. But Prime Minister John Key has described it as "alarming'' and
said Mr McCully would raise it with his Fijian counterpart.

The Fijian men who were beaten were initially thought to have escaped from prison last year. Fijian police ruled this out but did not confirm their identities.

Mr Goff said the video recording brought to light a pattern of behaviour by Fijian security forces towards detainess which Amnesty International and Fijian nations had said was
commonplace.

"When security forces put themselves above the law it puts all citizens at risk. This includes those who express opposition to the actions of the military government in suppressing other human rights such as freedom of speech, a free press and the right to elect and change a government.

"New Zealanders want to see Fiji re-join the Pacific community of nations as a country that practices democracy and respects the rights of its own people.''

He said if the regime condoned security forces' brutal activities it diminished confidence that Fiji could restore democracy, and tarnished its image as a country where people felt
comfortable visiting.

Mr Key has said New Zealand was concerned about Fiji's promise of an election in 2014 after the interim government override many of the recommendations made by an independent Constitutional Commission.

The brutal, nine-minute-long video posted online last week shows one man handcuffed in the back of a ute being beaten with rods, while another man is on the ground being
tugged at by a dog.

Human rights groups have accused the Fiji military of carrying out the assaults on the men, and the Fiji police say they are investigating.

- NZ Herald

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