3 Apr 2008

Australia's foreign minister responds to Fiji's Human Rights Commssion

12:27 pm on 3 April 2008

Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, says fresh accusations from Fiji about Australia are another attempt to distract attention from its military government keeping democracy on hold.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission has released a report alleging Australia had breached international law through its military activities ahead of the island nation's 2006 coup.

The report repeats claims by the Fiji military at the time that Australia secretly sent SAS soldiers and weapons to Fiji and its navy ships entered Fiji waters in preparation for a potential intervention.

Mr Smith told ABC Radio that it's seen these spurious allegations before and they have been been rejected in the past, we reject them again.

He said the Australian military were effectively on standby so as to ensure the safety and welfare of Australian nationals should that have become necessary.

The government of military leader Frank Bainimarama used such methods to divert attention from its failure to prepare Fiji for elections next year as promised.

He said this is just another potential distraction to put the interim Fiji government in the position of sliding out of a faithful undertaking that it gave to Pacific nation states.