19 Feb 2007

Fiji interim AG says military stopped summoning dissidents 10 days ago

5:12 pm on 19 February 2007

Fiji's interim Attorney General denies claims that intimidation by the military has ended any freedom of speech in the country.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum made the comment in response to claims by a senior lawyer that the climate in Fiji is repressive and people fear for their families and jobs.

The lawyer - who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation - says people have been taken to the army barracks, roughed up and silenced.

He made the comments in the wake of a damning report compiled by a group of senior lawyers that challenges the legality of December's military takeover.

But Mr Sayed-Khayum rejects suggestions that people are afraid to speak out.

"I think there is a slight exaggeration. No-one's been hauled up to the barracks from my understanding as far as they're criticising what's happened for the past few days, past 10 days I think."

He claims there's a lot of vested interest in making comments against the interim administration.

The lawyers prepared the report in response to one released by the Fiji Human Rights Commission, which appeared to justify the December 5th coup.