13 Dec 2006

Fiji suspended from regional police body because of coup

3:38 pm on 13 December 2006

The regional police organisation has taken the unprecedented step to suspend Fiji's membership because of the coup.

The Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, or PICP, acted after an urgent ballot among its 21 members.

Its chairman, Hazime Telei of Palau, says the suspension is pending the restoration of the rule of law.

He says the members expressed their strong concern at the intimidation shown against the Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, and his senior staff.

Mr Telei says this included the unlawful detention of the acting commissioner and assistant commissioner, which subsequently forced their resignations from the Fiji police force.

"The police department there which is now run by the Fiji military is not really the police department or police agency that a free democratic government runs. That's not how the police department who are responsible for the peace and democracy in the island nation are supposed to be."

Mr Telei says that the provisions for the suspension of a member under the PICP Constitution have never previously been considered and members have therefore carefully considered this disciplinary step.