19 May 2003

Amnesty International has criticised Fiji over its lack of coup prosecutions

7:25 am on 19 May 2003

Amnesty International has criticised Fiji saying the rule of law and human rights are being sacrificed for political considerations.

It says three years after a violent coup, Fiji's military is still preventing the prosecution of soldiers who tortured at least four suspected rebels to death in a coup related mutiny.

Amnesty says the civilian and military justice systems remain compromised by their failure to act on evidence of torture and extra judicial executions.

It also points to problems with the handling of politically sensitive cases in which prosecutors and witnesses fail to turn up, allowing suspects to walk free.

It says leaders who co-operated with the coup rebels remain in high political office, while perpetrators of racist and other violence, mainly against Indo-Fijians, have been let off the hook.

Amnesty says such selective use of the rule of law will not inspire confidence in Fiji's justice system, or help its efforts to restore community peace and political stability.

It says recent reason charges against the vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, and several others, are belated steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done.