14 Mar 2007

NZ foreign minister says human rights booklet infers support for Fiji military regime

6:07 pm on 14 March 2007

The New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, says a Fiji human rights booklet appears to have been perverted by a change in its language.

The New Zealand government aid agency, NZAID, had been financially backing the booklet from the Fiji's human rights commission, but has asked for the latest version to be withdrawn because it implies a recognition of the coup last December.

The commission's director, Dr Shaista Shameem, says its contract with NZAID does not extend to determining content.

Mr Peters says the booklet was a good idea at the time of a democratically elected government but the new version contains clear inferences of support or endorsement for the military regime.

"We cannot support an endorsement of a military junta, an undemocratic unmandated regime by of all people a human rights commission."