17 Nov 2005

Fiji urged to ratify treaty on mercenaries

9:22 am on 17 November 2005

Fiji has been urged to ratify the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Training and Financing of Mercenaries.

The call has come from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries in Asia and the Pacific, Dr Shaista Shameem, who is also the director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

Dr Shameem says the issue of mercenaries has been a matter of concern to her, particularly when security firms are recruiting former soldiers from Fiji as highlighted in the latest reports from Papua New Guinea.

She says the media has often described such recruits as mercenaries and this borders not just on matters of national and regional, but also international security.

Dr Shameem says Fiji needs to have a system to keep watch on its former soldiers who breach international conventions, and even go as far as prosecuting those soldiers who have been trained by the Fiji military.

She says Fiji is an incredibly fertile ground for the recruitment of former soldiers because there are large numbers of them without jobs.

The minister of foreign affairs, Kaliopate Tavola, says Fiji intends to ratify all UN conventions but doesn't have the resources to meet the obligations placed by them.