1 Jul 2008

Fiji refuses to allow Australian police to protect High Commissioner

10:38 am on 1 July 2008

Fiji is refusing to consider federal police protection for Australia's high commissioner in Suva despite a third death threat against the diplomat.

Canberra has again asked that Australian Federal Police be allowed to provide close personal protection for high commissioner James Batley but Fiji's interim government has refused.

Australia's foreign Minister Stephen Smith described the latest threat, made in an anonymous letter on June 27, as a disturbing development.

He says it was serious, credible and offensive.

Mr Batley is now on leave arranged before the latest death threat.

He received another through the mail in mid May, just days after receiving the first when an envelope was left at the high commission, delivered by a man who had pulled up in a taxi.

Security has been stepped up at the High Commission.

Meanwhile, Fiji Police spokeswoman Ema Mua said the AFP would not be allowed to provide protection for Mr Batley.

She says they have their own men on the ground that are capable of doing that.

However, Fiji Police would consider any requests for upgraded security for the high commissioner.